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Ride a Balloon to the Very Edge of Space

Credit: PriestmanGoode

See the greatest view in the galaxy, no astronaut training required.

I’ve heard many astronauts and high-flyers, upon leaving the Earth for the first time, have to stop and marvel for a few minutes at the breathtaking beauty of our home when viewed from a distance. It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime sight, but only a very select few people get to see it in person in their lifetimes. Well, what if I told you you could see that incredible vista for yourself, and you wouldn’t even need to wear a spacesuit?

Space Perspective, an experimental space flight company based out of Florida, is currently developing a new kind of passenger vehicle designed to take tourists up to the very edge of space so they can see the Earth in all its splendor. The vehicle is sort of like a souped-up hot air balloon; an airtight capsule is suspended from an enormous blimp, and in a two-hour flight, is launched 100,000 feet to a point of 99% above the atmosphere. Passengers will get two hours to watch the planet and take pictures, then the balloon will gracefully glide back down to the surface for a soft ocean landing, after which the passengers are ferried back to land. Space Perspective is also hoping to feature a refreshment bar in the capsule, because a view that great warrants drinks, and even a windowed bathroom! But first they need to get the thing working.

“We’re committed to fundamentally changing the way people have access to space — both to perform much-needed research to benefit life on Earth and to affect how we view and connect with our planet,” said Space Perspective founder and co-CEO Jane Poynter in a press release.

Space Perspective currently has a test flight for its prototype, named the Space Neptune, scheduled for early 2021 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This first launch will not have a crew, but rather multiple pieces of analytical equipment in the capsule in order to make sure everything’s smooth and safe.

Credit: PriestmanGoode

“We looked at all the different elements that would make the experience not just memorable, but truly comfortable as well,” Nigel Goode, designer and cofounder of PriestmanGoode, the co-designers of the vessel, said in a release. “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.”

Space Perspective is hoping to have commercial flights running in a few years’ time. If you’re interested, though, just bear in mind a ticket is probably going to run you around $125,000. Cheaper than flight school, I guess.