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As we have seen over the last few years, the space tourism market looks to be growing. But not every luxury space travel company plans to compete with companies like SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origins. Some are taking a different approach with one of the most recent ideas involving space balloons. Recently, a company called Space Perspective announced its plans to enter into the space tourism market by 2024. The company expects to offer space travelers an experience like no other. Their luxury cabins suspended by large hydrogen-filled balloons is much less intimidating when compared to rocket ships. And the price tag is significantly cheaper as well, which attracts a much larger segment of the space tourism market. In fact, Space Perspective is already booked out its first year highlighting the demand for luxury space travel. By making space journeys more accessible to the masses, these are the types of businesses that may truly excel.

“We wanted to find a way that really changed the way people think about spaceflight that makes it much more approachable and accessible.” –  Jayne Poynter, Co-CEO and Co-Founder, Space Perspective

Traveling in Space in Luxury

For those wishing to indulge themselves in luxury space travel, a space balloon might just be the way to go.  At least, this is Space Perspective’s take in the industry. Their space balloons strive to provide the perfect ambience for seeing space and the Earth from miles away. Each luxury cabin has five-foot high windows, allowing for a 360-degree panoramic view. At the same time, space travelers can relax in reclining seats with subdued lighting offering the ideal environment for viewing. And the décor, which itself boasts purple hues, also creates a relaxing atmosphere to optimize the journey.

According to Space Perspective, these types of features have been lacking from other prototypes in the space tourism market. Other space capsules are more sterile in their design and presentation. But their vessel, aptly named Neptune, hopes to greatly improve this situation. In addition to the features already mentioned, the Neptune also has a space lounger where travelers can enjoy food and beverages. The luxury space travel accommodations also have telescopes and interactive devices for guests. And of course, it offers Wi-Fi service so one can show friends and family their experience.

“The quintessential spaceflight experience is a shared human experience and we’re super proud of this significant milestone as we move full steam ahead toward commercial flight.” Taber MacCallum, Co-CEO and Co-Founder, Space Perspective

The Space Balloon Experience

The luxury space travel offered by the amenities on Space Perspective are appealing, but at what price? Can the space tourism market support such an offering? Compared to other space experiences, the space balloon seems like a good deal. For $125,000, one can secure a space balloon seat, much less than the $450,000 cost of a Virgin Galactic voyage. Once purchased, space travelers can expect a six-hour experience. Of this time, two hours are required for the ascent and descent with the remainder spent gliding above the Earth. Then, the experience concludes with an ocean splashdown.

(Read how Virgin Galactic won the billionaire space race in this Bold story.)

Based on the response thus far, it certainly seems like the space tourism market finds this option attractive. The company has planned 25 flights its first year, and all have booked already. In essence, this totals roughly 600 eager individuals ready to explore the luxury space travel Space Perspective offers. In addition, riding in the space balloon requires no special training, and it’s ecofriendly. The hydrogen gas used will be obtained through renewable energy sources and has zero emissions. In total, the space balloon looks to be a nice addition to the space tourism market.

“Our mission is to inspire space explorers to connect more closely with our planet and each other, and the environment in which they travel with us is central to this.” – Jayne Poynter

Space Travel or Not?

While luxury space travel in a balloon has many appealing features, some have issue with it. Specifically, some claim it doesn’t qualify for the space tourism market because its elevation is adequate. Space Perspective’s Neptune reaches a height of 20 miles above the ground, which is significantly higher than commercial flights at 6 miles. But it fails to reach the Karman Line of 62 miles, which purists say is needed for true space tourism. As a result, space travelers on the balloon never experience weightlessness during their experience. This contrasts with Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic in this regard.

A fancy looking space cabin
The next evolution of the space tourism market? Apparently it’s all about riding in luxury cabins suspended by balloons into the upper atmosphere.

Despite not reaching the desired elevation, Space Perspective’s journey still climbs above 99% of the Earth’s atmosphere. For the founders, they believe this is more than enough to achieve their overarching goals. Their primary mission is to make the space tourism market more accessible to more people. But at the same time, they wish to reinforce the importance of ecologic conservation and protection. Even at 20 miles above the Earth, it’s easy to appreciate the finite aspects of our environment. Thus, as far as their concerned, luxury space travel in a space balloon more than qualifies for space travel.

The Burgeoning Space Tourism Market

Initially, those wishing to explore space as individuals envisioned shelling out big bucks and investing in serious training. SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic looked to be the heavy hitters in this regard. But it now looks like the space tourism market may have a variety of options for space travel at varying price points. Certainly, the experiences won’t be the same, but it offers greater opportunities for people to explore this evolving frontier. Space balloons are simply the latest in this regard, but they’ll likely not be the last. The future of the space economy is definitely worth watching over the coming years.

 

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