Space Perspective will launch tourist hot air balloon flights at sea

Tourists who wish to soar to the stratosphere in a hot air balloon now have a sea launch option.

Space Perspective, which aims to start transporting customers to the stratosphere by 2024, has just announced the acquisition of a “marine spaceport” ship named MS Voyager. The ship is named after NASA Traveler 1 mission, which, among other achievements, has taken on an emblematic character”pale blue dot” Photo of Earth in 1990 from beyond the orbit of Neptune.

The vessel, acquired for an undisclosed price from shipbuilder Edison Chouest Offshore, is 89 meters (292ft) long and will be customized to launch and retrieve Spaceship Neptune capsules operated by Space Perspective, which sells seats for $125,000 each.

“Breaking down geographic boundaries for launch and landing accelerates our mission to make this transformative experience more accessible to the world and the international market – safely, reliably and with minimal impact on our planet,” said Jane. Poynter, Founder and Co-CEO of Space Perspective. A declaration.

Related: Space tourism took a giant leap in 2021: here are 10 milestones of the year

MS Voyager will use biofuel to reduce its carbon footprint, with further offsets provided by the non-profit organization Cool Effect which has partnerships with entities such as the Yale School of Public Health and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Marine spaceports create ideal launch conditions in two ways: by sailing to areas of good weather, which allows year-round operations in a region, and by moving with the sea breeze, so that there is hardly any wind on the bridge”. Perspective said about his decision to start a fleet of ships.

The company also cited other benefits, including more launch opportunities, more options for night or daytime launches, and flexible destinations for passengers who might not be able to make it to the single site. launch platform that Space Perspective has secured so far on the coast of Florida.

The Spaceship Neptune capsule will have a splash cone at its base to support a water landing. During ocean recovery, the capsule will be stabilized using small boats, and an A-frame will lift it onto MS Voyager.

Space tourism is in its infancy as an industry and has encountered some challenges with early suppliers, including blue origin and Galactic Virgo. Both of these companies, unlike Space Perspective, fly passengers to altitudes above 80 kilometers, which NASA, the US Federal Aviation Administration and the US military classify as outer space.

Blue Origin’s rocket flights pass the Kármán Line, which sits at an altitude of 62 miles (100 km) and is recognized by the International Astronautical Federation as the boundary of space. Blue Origin has completed six suborbital sightseeing flights so far, but its New Shepard spacecraft is currently grounded until the company found the root cause of an anomaly that occurred during an uncrewed flight in September.

Galactic Virgo uses a carrier aircraft, called VMS Eve, which drops a space plane called SpaceShipTwo in midair. The company conducted a highly publicized test flight with the founder Richard Branson on board in July 2021, which was later revealed to have flew outside its assigned airspace (a regulatory issue).

Virgin Galactic is modernizing its fleet and has repeatedly delayed restarting flight operations; it plans to resume flying in 2023 at the earliest. The company is also working on a new series of space planes which the company says will increase launch rates later in the decade.

Elizabeth Howell is co-author of “Why am I taller (opens in a new tab)?” (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book on space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace (opens in a new tab). Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in a new tab) Where Facebook (opens in a new tab).