Space Perspective Unveils Hot Air Balloon Sightseeing Flight Design

Space Perspective’s balloon-carrying capsule won’t have the gumball shape we typically associate with that aerospace term.

The Florida-based company today (July 27) unveiled the exterior design of its pressurized capsule, which will begin ferrying customers to the stratosphere under a giant balloon in just two years, if all goes as planned. It turns out that the craft, known as Spaceship Neptune, will be spherical.

A spherical shape maximizes the panoramic views offered by the capsule’s windows, which will be the largest ever flown this high, company representatives said. The Neptune spacecraft will also sport an exclusive “splash cone” at its base, designed to make its ocean landings smoother and safer.

Related: The first space tourists in photos

Space Perspective’s Spaceship Neptune capsule will be transported into the stratosphere by a giant balloon. (Image credit: Space Perspective)

“The team has come together to create an incredibly robust, safe and incredibly elegant and luxurious system for the Neptune spacecraft,” said Taber MacCallum, co-founder, co-CEO and chief technical officer of Space Perspective, today. “Simplicity and automation are the keys to security.”

Today’s reveal comes three months after the presentation of Space Perspective what the capsule will look like inside. The Neptune spacecraft cabin will include a lavatory with a view and a “Space Lounge” with a telescope and interactive screens, among other amenities.

Artist’s rendering of the Neptune spacecraft from Space Perspective with the sunrise pouring through its large windows. (Image credit: Space Perspective)

perspective from space began construction of the capsule at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Commercial flights of the Neptune spacecraft, which can carry nine people – eight passengers and a pilot – are expected to begin in late 2024, company representatives said.

These flights will last approximately six hours, from takeoff to landing. They will take passengers on a gentle ride at a maximum altitude of approximately 100,000 feet (30,000 meters), allowing a view of our thin atmosphere against the blackness of space. The Neptune spacecraft will not actually reach space and passengers will not experience weightlessness.

Space Perspective’s Spaceship Neptune capsule will have a luxurious interior. (Image credit: Space Perspective)

A seat aboard the capsule is currently selling for $125,000 and nearly 900 people have purchased a ticket so far, Space Perspective representatives said.

The company has a competitor in the stratospheric tourism market – Arizona-based worldviewwhich plans to offer a similar experience for $50,000 per seat.

These hot air balloon rides will be very different from the rocket rides offered by suborbital tourism companies Galactic Virgo and Blue Origin, whose vehicles briefly reach space. Virgin Galactic currently charges $450,000 per seat for a ride on its SpaceShipTwo spaceplane; blue origin did not disclose ticket prices for his New Shepard vehicle.

Mike Wall is the author of “The low (opens in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in a new tab). Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in a new tab) Or on Facebook (opens in a new tab).