Startup Unveils Completed Balloon Capsule for Taking Humans to Space

Space Perspective aims to begin taking its more than 1,750 current ticket holders to the edge of space in 2025.

Space Perspective Capsule Front On Sunset Landscape
Space Perspective

Space Perspective released images of its completed test capsule today. With its first SpaceBalloon finished and its launch vessel, Marine Spaceport Voyager, in its final stage of preparation, Space Perspective is beginning to eye its test flights window.

The company said the test capsule, which is named Excelsior in honor of late balloon space-jump pioneer Joe Kittinger, is now the largest spaceflight capsule in existence and represents a significant milestone in U.S. entrepreneurship and the first commercial spacecraft designed, developed and manufactured without the backing of a billionaire or significant government funding.

Soon to be the largest human spacecraft in operation (excluding the space stations), Spaceship Neptune's spherical capsule is 16 feet (4.9 meters) in diameter, providing a pressurized volume of more than 2,000 cubic feet (60 cubic meters) – roughly two times the volume of Virgin Galactic's Spaceship Two and Blue Origin's New Shepard, and about four times that of SpaceX's Crew Dragon.

The spherical shape of the exterior creates the perfect pressure vessel. Starting with this form allowed the engineers to not only create the lightest and strongest structure possible, but also the roomiest interior. Space Perspective also long considered repeated vertical windows, which allow for contiguous panoramic views (vs. horizontal windows, which would bifurcate the view to the human eye – a phenomenon resulting from stereoscopic vision). Its innovative windows were designed to protect from harmful wavelengths of sunlight while also controlling for heat in the capsule and not altering the color of what you see out of them – the stars above and the Earth below.

More than 100 layouts for the interior of the capsule and its Space Lounge were explored before finalizing the overall dimensions and flow to maximize space and comfort. Designed to accommodate eight Explorers and a Captain, once in commercial operations, Spaceship Neptune will set the record for the most people taken to the edge of space – one more than the NASA Space Shuttle mission STS-61-A.

Space Perspective is vertically integrated with in-house capsule design, manufacturing, testing and operational functions. This includes a carbon composites manufacturing facility with process control, a material testing laboratory, and a capsule integration hangar. The flight electrical and power systems, software, mission control and the environmental control and life support systems, including atmospheric and thermal control, are also designed and built in house – as are the company's SpaceBalloons, which are manufactured in its 700-foot-long Seely SpaceBalloon Factory, named after late chemical engineer and balloon science pioneer Loren G. Seely, whom the company's head of balloon development and manufacturing studied under.

Reputable operational partners supporting test capsule completion included Llamas Plastics, Keyence, Siemens, Epsilon3, Dolphitech, ViRTEK, Rescale, Sims Crane, PCI Composites, Andromeda Systems Inc., and RS&H Aerospace Solutions.

Space Perspective aims to begin taking its more than 1,750 current ticket holders to the edge of space in 2025, and is expected to hit 4,000 seats sold – $400 million in bookings – by the end of this year. Roughly 35% of its current customers can be attributed to international markets, but that number continues to grow. Initial flights will launch off the Space Coast of Florida. The company is currently in talks to bring operations to the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, where there is significant interest in participating in the new space economy and in bolstering regional cultural moments and offerings through space tourism and space activation.

A seat on Spaceship Neptune costs $125,000. A full capsule (eight seats) costs $1,000,000 and accounts for 50% of reservations within the travel trade industry, which plays an important role in securing these bookings. While tickets are sold out for the next few years, interested customers can discuss waitlists and upgrade options, especially for some of the earlier flights, by contacting [email protected].

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