Space balloon company offers space travel

(ORDO NEWS) — A new entrant in the space tourism market is promising customers to admire the curvature of the Earth from a comfortable luxury cabin elevated into the upper atmosphere in a giant hot air balloon.

On Tuesday, Space Perspective unveiled illustrations of its plush cabins, which it hopes to launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida by the end of 2024. So far, over 600 tickets have been sold, priced at $125,000 each.

1.5 meter high windows, deep seats, dark, purple tones and subdued lighting – the atmosphere contrasts with the white and disinfected capsules of competitors.

Wifi and a drink bar complete the “space lounge” inside the Neptune capsule. Whether this is really a space flight is a moot point.

The balloon reaches an altitude of 30 kilometers, which is much lower than competitors Virgin Galactic, which rises to a height of just over 80 kilometers, or Blue Origin, which overcomes the Karman line at an altitude of 100 kilometers above sea level – the internationally recognized space boundary.

SpaceX Crew Dragons fly even higher into space. But 30 km is still much higher than commercial aircraft, which climb to an altitude of about 10 km.

“We are above 99 percent of the earth’s atmosphere,” company co-founder Jane Poynter told AFP, which means passengers will actually see the blackness of space.

No special preparation is required. The balloon rises at 19 kilometers per hour, and the company is touting itself as a greener, zero-emission alternative to rocket fuel.

They intend to obtain hydrogen for the balloon from renewable sources, and not extract it from fossil fuels.

The price for a two-hour ascent, a two-hour flight, and a two-hour descent that ends with a plunge into the ocean is significantly lower than Virgin Galactic tickets, which cost $450,000 for a space plane flight.

Blue Origin does not disclose its prices, but they are believed to be much higher, while four entrepreneurs who flew to the International Space Station on a SpaceX ship paid Axiom Space $55 million each for the privilege.

“We wanted to find a way that would really change the way people think about space travel, make it much more accessible and understandable,” Pointer says.

One thing passengers won’t experience is the feeling of weightlessness.

On a Virgin space plane and a Blue Origin rocket, passengers can unbuckle and float when the rocket engines shut down, but the craft continues to move upward for several minutes, after which gravity pulls it back down.

Passengers on SpaceX spacecraft and passengers on the ISS also experience apparent weightlessness as the ships orbit the Earth.

In the first year, Space Perspective plans to make 25 flights, with all seats already booked.

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