For a mere $125,000, you, too, can purchase a trip to ascend some 20 miles into Earth's upper atmosphere on board a luxury space balloon.
Space Perspective, a human space flight company in Florida, on Wednesday began selling tickets for its inaugural voyage way high into the sky at $125,000 a pop. The trip is scheduled for late 2024 aboard the Spaceship Neptune, a hot air balloon-style craft lifted by hydrogen. Anyone interested in the trip must pay a $1,000 deposit.
The company said it plans to send eight passengers on a "leisurely" ascension into space from a launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, a excursion in which they will reportedly travel up to 20 miles above the Earth's surface for a "profoundly life-changing" experience.
"Throughout the six-hour journey, all guests will enjoy the best reclining seats in the house to soak in the 450-mile, 360-degree view, an open call on dress, champagne, and a bathroom," Space Perspective said in a press release.
While civilians have flown as guests or paying passengers aboard U.S. and Russian spacecraft in the past, those trips were government-sponsored missions, piloted by professional astronauts. What Space Perspective and other spaceflight companies are offering is notably different, companies have said.
Measuring at 700 feet tall, Spaceship Neptune's capsule will feature plush seating, 360-degree panoramic windows, WiFi access and other amenities. Once inflated, the space balloon that lifts the capsule will be "the size of a football stadium," Space Perspective said.
There will be a captain on board and passengers won't require specialized training before liftoff. At its highest altitude, Spaceship Neptune will allow passengers to see the curvature of Earth against a backdrop of the sun, the company said.
Aerospace entrepreneurs Jane Poynter and Taber MacCallum founded Space Perspective in 2019 with the stated goal of helping more people see Earth from its upper atmosphere. The company said it completed a successful test flight of the space balloon in Titusville, Florida, earlier this month.
Poynter and MacCallum said during a press conference last year that they also planned to send research teams "to the edge of space" using Spaceship Neptune.
Poynter and MacCallum are one of many players in the emerging space tourism industry and, so far, their spaceflight package is the relative bargain of the bunch. Jeff Bezos' aerospace company Blue Origin, auctioned off one seat aboard its New Shepard spacecraft earlier this month for a. Bezos himself also plans to board the New Shepard on its .
"I want to go on this flight because it's the thing I've wanted to do all my life," Bezos said in an Instagram post. "It's an adventure. It's a big deal for me."
Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is expected to begin trips to space early next year. Tickets are more than $250,000 each and Branson's company has reportedly sold more than 600 seats. Virgin Galactic in March revealed the VSS Imagine, the first in a growing fleet of spacecrafts it plans to use for space tourism.
Meanwhile, Elon Musk's SpaceX has already sold tickets for a private, 10-day space ride to the International Space Station. That trip is slated to launch later this year. Tickets sold for $55 million each.
A 2019 UBS analysis projected space tourism will be valued at $3 billion by 2030. The larger space industry is expected to be worth $805 billion by that same year, UBS said.
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