The, ‘Next Frontier’. ‘To boldly go where no person has been before’. We have all heard these phrases and many of us are stirred to imagine and ask – Could I possibly do this? Throw money at things and most things can happen. So far, the costs of commercial space adventures for civilians has been a ‘tad costly’! This new experience has brought the price tag down, but its not quite a space station or the thrill of G force and weightlessness.
Space travellers keen to avoid leaving a large carbon footprint behind them might prefer to travel to the edge of the atmosphere aboard Spaceship Neptune, an innovative high-performance balloon (less impact than a rocket, or a jet/rocket aircraft combination) and pressurised capsule from US firm Space Perspective.
Neptune will carry eight passengers to the edge of space on a six-hour journey from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, ascending gently in a pressurised capsule suspended beneath the football stadium-sized balloon to an altitude of 100,000 feet, affording spectacular views of Earth. The balloon will float at the very top of the Earth’s atmosphere for a couple of hours, during which passengers will enjoy mesmerising views from the 360-degree windows, before making their descent and splashing down in the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico, depending on the time of year. Onboard WiFi will enable passengers to share their experiences on social media in real time during their flight, and Space Perspective founder and co-CEO Jane Poynter says she hopes to be able to live stream events around the world from the edge of space.
Reaching the upper atmosphere by balloon uses “significantly less carbon than a traditional rocket-based suborbital flight vehicle,” according to Poynter, and passengers will not be required to undergo any training prior to their flight. Although prices have not yet been set, Poynter anticipates that tickets will cost around US $125,000.