Capitalism in space: A new Florida company dubbed Spac Perspective plans to offer six-hour-long tourist balloon flights to altitudes of 100,000 feet for $125,000 per ticket.
“Spaceship Neptune,” operated by a company called Space Perspective from leased facilities at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, will carry eight passengers at a time on six-hour flights. The passenger cabin, lifted by a huge hydrogen-filled balloon, will climb at a sedate 12 mph to an altitude of about 30 miles high. That will be followed by a slow descent to splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean where a recovery ship will be standing by to secure the cabin and crew.
Test flights carrying scientific research payloads are expected to begin in 2021. The first flights carrying passengers are expected within the next three-and-a-half years or so, with piloted test flights before that.
While the company initially will operate out of the Florida spaceport, the system could be launched from multiple sites around the world, with Hawaii and Alaska near-term possibilities.
The co-CEO of this company, Jane Poynter, had been the head of WorldView here in Tucson when that company was first planning to do tourist flights like this. She got pushed out a little over a year ago as the company shifted away from tourist flights to military surveillance, only to reappear now in Florida with a new company proposing the same thing.
All power to her. I hope this new company succeeds. It is offering a product at half the price of Virgin Galactic that is actually far superior (30 miles altitude for six hours vs 50 miles for five minutes).
NOTE: 100,000 feet elevation equals 30 kilometers, not 30 miles. I think the “30 mile” number in the quote is probably a mistake.
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