Space Perspective announced its plans to launch a marine spaceport for its balloon-borne capsules, which are designed to take space tourists on trips to the edge of space.
The MS Voyager will be the first in a fleet of oceanic launch platforms for the company’s Spaceship Neptune balloon system, which are meant to travel to the stratosphere, the Florida-based company announced on Tuesday.
Space Perspective acquired MS Voyager from shipbuilder Edison Chouest Offshore, and the vessel is currently being converted to a launch platform at a Louisiana shipyard. The marine spaceport should be ready by the end of the year. The 292-foot-long vessel will be stationed at Port Canaveral in Florida, while the company plans on having the rest of the spaceport fleet in different parts of the world.
Space Perspective had originally planned to launch Spaceship Neptune from Florida’s Space Coast, but adding a launch pad for the balloon at sea creates more flexible conditions for liftoff, according to the company. The marine spaceports can navigate to areas with good weather for launch, and sailing along with the sea breeze will result in no wind on the deck.
The company is nearly done building Spaceship Neptune, which is essentially a capsule that will be carried off to the stratosphere by a giant SpaceBalloon. The balloon is propelled by hydrogen, and rises up at a slow speed of 12 miles per hour (19 kilometers per hour). Space Perspective has already lured enough tourists to buy into its space voyages, selling more than 1,000 tickets at a price of $125,000 each, according to SpaceNews. The entire flight lasts about six hours, afterwards the capsule splashes down in the ocean at the end of its trip.
The company is gearing up for test flights of Spaceship Neptune in 2023, and expects to kick-off its commercial flights by 2024. “Space Perspective will change your relationship with our planet by providing the quintessential astronaut experience of viewing Earth from the blackness of space,” Jane Poynter, Space Perspective’s founder and co-CEO, said in a statement.