The U.S. startup Space Perspective, in collaboration with London-based PriestmanGoode design studio, is working on a new kind of spaceship that will carry passengers and scientific payloads to the edge of space and back.
The Spaceship Neptune, as it’s going to be called, will consist of a pressurized capsule attached to a high-altitude balloon. It will be capable of safely rising to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere in roughly two hours. There the passengers (called “Explorers” by Space Perspective’s marketing team) can take in the astounding view, “share their experience on social media” and wait for the descent, which will take another two hours and will end in the ocean, where a ship will retrieve the capsule and everyone aboard. The travel time, from liftoff to touchdown will amount to roughly six hours.
“Our starting point was the passenger experience. We looked at all the different elements that would make the experience not just memorable, but truly comfortable as well and included essentials for a journey of six hours, like a lavatory”, says PriestmanGoode’s co-founder Nigel Goode. “We wanted to make sure that passengers would be able to get 360-degree unobstructed views and that we created an efficient space that would enable them to move around during the journey. Meanwhile, we needed to minimize weight and create a highly functional environment for the pilot. All these elements guided the shape of the final capsule.”
If everything proceeds according to plans, Spaceship Neptune will attempt a first unmanned flight in early 2021, leaving from the Shuttle Landing Facility at Kennedy’s Space Center in Florida, one of the most famous NASA launching facility.
So far there’s no information yet about the pricing of a ticket to hop on board of the Spaceship Neptune. Despite a commendable attempt at depicting this form of space travel as more inclusive and democratic, though, it’s quite sure that a trip on Space Perspective’s ship will remain an experience reserved to the rich for quite some time in the future.