The luxury space balloon firm debuted high-end interior seating. With $125,000 tickets?
Florida-based Space Perspectives, a startup that wants to ferry passengers to the edge of Earth's atmosphere has unveiled the interiors of the capsule and the onboard amenities one can expect during the trip.
We have kept an eye on this company for a good part of two years now and an admirable thing apart from their promise to take you miles above the ground is that there have been no fare hikes that could possibly burn a bigger hole in your pocket. It is either extremely good calculation from the word go, or the mode of transportation the company chose that keeps the costs down.
How long is the space trip?
In case you have missed our previous coverage of Space Perspectives, here is a quick recap. The company uses a hydrogen gas balloon to take you up to a height of 100,000 feet (30,000 m) above the ground, where you are practically above 99 percent of the Earth's atmosphere.
One could debate whether this is actually a space trip, given that the altitude is still way below the Karman Line, the bone of contention between Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin last year. However, unlike the 'eight minutes of space' trips offered by these billionaire-backed companies, a trip on a Space Perspective balloon is less demanding both physically and monetarily.
Not to forget, the ascent to and descent from this altitude take about two hours each, while the company wants you to spend another two hours enjoying the views that no commercial airplane can ever offer you. All in you get, a six-hour adventure for a flat price of $125,000.
What can you expect?
It may beg the question of what can you do during the trip. If you were to travel on a Branson or a Bezos spaceship, you would get a sterile white interior that looks borrowed from a sci-fi movie and forces you to stay strapped down.
However, on Spaceship Neptune, the name given by the company to its luxury capsule, you will find mood lighting and a soundtrack to more your journey more leisurely. The pressurized cabin comes with reclining seats from where you can enjoy 360-degree views and just in case, you want to look closely at a star or a planet, there is also a handy telescope.
Designed to seat eight passengers and a pilot, the capsule offers space for food and drinks as well as onboard Wi-Fi if you want to live stream your experience. Just in case, you need to visit the loo, there are windows in there too, so that you never miss the view.
To bring you back to Earth, the pilot will begin releasing the hydrogen slowly from the balloon. A parachute system, used by space agencies to protect precious cargo, can jump in if the rate of descent increases rapidly. Once on the ground, the capsule will be used again while hydrogen made from renewable sources will be used to power the next flight. Space Perspectives claims that its "spaceflight" is carbon neutral.
Last year, the company completed the first flight of its gigantic balloon and has plans to launch 25 such flights a year once it is operational in 2024. If you are interested in booking yourself a seat, you need to wait since all flights for the first year are already booked.