Space tourism company Space Perspective has revealed the final design of its Spaceship Neptune, a pressurised capsule that will transport passengers nearly 20 miles above Earth.
We first saw the interior of the cabin in April, and now we’re getting a look at the exterior. Space Perspective is currently building the capsule at its facility near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the company intends to launch its balloon-assisted journeys to the edge of space.
Thousands of virtual flight tests and simulations were used to inform the design of the spherical capsule, according to an emailed statement. The design was created in collaboration with Siemens Digital Industries. The capsule has reflective coated windows, a thermal control system to keep temperatures stable during the six-hour journey, and a splash cone for water landings.
“Centuries of balloon and parachute operation and development demonstrate that always flying with the balloon from launch through landing, with traditional parachutes as a reserve backup system, is by far the simplest, safest, and most robust solution,” said Taber MacCallum, Space Perspective’s founder, co-CEO, and CTO, in a statement. “Because of our proprietary flight system, the capsule and SpaceBalloon are always connected, and take-off and landing conditions are always under our control.”
The spaceship Neptune will provide 360-degree panoramic views of the Earth’s curvature and the darkness of space. Passengers will be able to see 450 miles (724 kilometres) in all directions from heights of up to 20 miles (30 kilometres).
The press release from Space Perspective began with a rather amusing claim: “Space travel is about to become safer, more comfortable, and even more thrilling.” To be clear, the Starship Neptune will not travel into space. The recognised boundary of space, the Kármán line, begins approximately 62 miles (100 km) above the Earth, which is roughly three times higher than the maximum height that the Spaceship Neptune will reach.
According to the company, it is “revolutionising space travel—and is a world away from rocket-powered space endeavours.” The platform allows for carbon-neutral, zero-emission high-altitude flight, so the latter half of this statement is correct.
According to the company, the exterior’s smooth and spherical design “accommodates a roomier interior with more headroom, as well as the additional safety benefits of being optimal for pressure resistance.” The new splash cone should ensure gentle and safe landings in the water, while the reflective coating on the windows will keep the interior comfortable and cool by keeping sunlight at bay. According to Space Perspective, the thermal control system will work to keep the capsule at a constant temperature as it moves “through a wide range of thermally dynamic environments.”
According to the company, 900 tickets worth $125,000 have already been sold. (refundable deposits start at $1,000). Spaceship Neptune flights could begin in 2024, and with so many tickets already sold, the company is now accepting reservations for flights into 2025 and beyond. The system has already flown in a test flight, with the Federal Aviation Administration overseeing the project through its Office of Commercial Space Transportation.
Design experts Dan Window and Isabella Trani, who previously worked on the New Tube for London, the Vertical Aerospace VX4 electric aircraft, and the Hyperloop, have contributed to the project. “The team has collaborated to create an incredibly robust, safe, and incredibly elegant and luxurious system for Spaceship Neptune,” MacCallum said. “The keys to safety are simplicity and automation.”
The company revealed concept images of the Space Lounge interior in April, which included customizable mood lighting, bucket seats, a bar, and a restroom.
Space Perspective announced in May that it had received an additional $17 million in funding, after previously receiving $7 million in seed funding. The company intends to hire approximately 240 full-time employees by the end of 2026. Mitzi Giles, the current Balloon Development and Manufacturing Lead, has built record-breaking high-altitude balloons for NASA. All of the pieces appear to be in place for the company to succeed, but only time will tell whether its stratospheric balloons will take flight.
Thousands of virtual flight tests and simulations, according to an email, influenced the design of the spherical capsule. The design was created in collaboration with Siemens Digital Industries. The capsule has reflective coated windows, a thermal control system to keep the temperature constant during the six-hour journey, and a splash cone for landing in water.
“Centuries of balloon and parachute operation and development have demonstrated that always flying with a balloon from launch to landing, with a conventional parachute as a reserve backup system, is by far the simplest, safest, and strongest option.” “The solution is available,” said Taber McCallum, Founder, Co-CEO, and CTO of Space Perspectives, in a statement. “Because of our proprietary flight system, the capsule and space balloon are always connected, and we have complete control over take-off and landing conditions.”
The 360-degree panoramic view of the Earth’s curvature and the darkness of space will be provided by SpaceShip Neptune. Travelers will be able to see 450 miles (724 km) in each direction from an altitude of 32 km (30 km).
The press release from Space Perspective began with a compelling claim: “Space travel is about to become safer, more comfortable, and even more thrilling.” To be clear, the Starship Neptune will not travel into space. The Carmen Line, the recognised boundary of space, begins about 62 miles (100 km) above Earth, which is roughly three times the maximum altitude attained by the erroneously named spaceship Neptune.
According to the company, it is “revolutionising space travel — and a world away from rocket-fueled space ventures.” The platform provides a carbon-neutral, zero-emissions form of high-altitude flight, so the latter part of this statement is correct.