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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.

Entering the interior of the finished capsule for the first time just last week, capsule design lead, Dan Window, was overcome with emotion. “It’s been over a decade of work with Jane (Poynter) and Taber (MacCallum),” Window said of his long-standing relationship and collaboration with Space Perspective’s Founders and Co-CEOs. “I teared up. To see our designs become reality and to know that we will be taking people to space to have this life-changing experience in this beautiful capsule. It’s a dream.”

“The space capsule is like nothing the world has ever seen,” said MacCallum, who is also Space Perspective’s CTO, noting the capsule’s massive windows, iconic design, and spacious interior. “We are on the cusp of a staggering shift – not only in the way we humans experience space, but also what we conjure in our minds when we think of the spaceship that gets us there. We are redefining the category and paving the way for accessible space travel for years to come.”

Spaceship Neptune – Excelsior Capsule Images & Video

Design Innovation & Patents

The iconic 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.

Every major element of its spaceship is covered by a patent – this includes the SpaceBalloon, the method of launching a SpaceBalloon from a ship, the reserve descent system, the heat-rejecting radiator technology, the capsule structure with vertical windows, and the splash cone, which attenuates the capsule to provide a gentle ocean landing and then becomes a sea anchor to stabilize the capsule.

Development & Manufacturing

Uniquely, Space Perspective is vertically integrated with in-house capsule design, manufacturing, testing and operational functions. This includes a carbon composites manufacturing facility with state-of-the-art 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.

Unparalleled Engineering Team

Space Perspective’s team has been instrumental in the development of every U.S. human spacecraft for the past 40 years, and has worked directly for or on high-profile projects with the likes of NASA, SpaceX, Boeing, Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, and the U.S. Navy. The capsule achievement, specifically, is the result of deep collaboration between three of the company’s engineering teams, including structures, led by Ryon Warren, manufacturing, led by Vincent Bachet, and design, led by Dan Window (former PriestmanGoode). Mitzi Giles and her team are responsible for the recent completion of the company’s first SpaceBalloon. Rounding out the leadership is John Straus, who heads environmental control and life support; Ryan Nascimento, who heads launch and retrieval; Quentin Washington, who heads avionics, power and computational systems; Curis Larsen, who heads Spaceship Neptune’s reserve descent system; and Al Witkowski, who occupies an integrated role as lead systems engineer. 

Funding, Sales & International Expansion

Space Perspective has raised $77M to date, and is funded by a diverse portfolio of investors, including lead investment group, Prime Movers Lab, who specialize in deep-tech investments into companies that have the potential to impact billions of lives, and other notable venture capital funds like LightShed Partners, 1517 Fund, Republic Capital, SpaceFund, Explorer 1 Fund, E2MC Ventures, Base Ventures, Green Sands Equity, and Harry Kravis’s new fund, Stonecroft Management – not to mention investment from its own Explorers. Some of the company’s investors joined the Space Perspective team last week for a special capsule unveiling on Valentine’s Day, marking the anniversary of the Pale Blue Dot, the photograph taken of Earth from 3.7 billion miles away in 1990 by the Voyager 1 space probe on beloved late astronomer Carl Sagan’s urging. The Pale Blue Dot is a beacon for the Space Perspective mission and brand – an image that reminds us to act more kindly toward the planet and each other.

Watch Space Perspective’s Pale Blue Dot Brand Video

In 2021, Space Perspective flew a capsule simulator to 100,000 feet under its SpaceBalloon; since then, its teams have been designing and building a pressurized capsule to resume testing, which will include evaluating all systems, corners cases and off-nominal scenarios to pass numerous safety gates. With the spaceship components now complete, a series of uncrewed test flights will begin in the next few weeks off the coast of Florida. Data gathered during those flights will pave the way for the parallel development of human-rated capsule and crewed test flights later this year.

Space Perspective’s revolutionary spaceflights offer customers, who they call Explorers, a transformative six-hour journey inside a capsule lifted by a SpaceBalloon at ~12 mph. With no rockets or heavy g-forces, it’s the most accessible way to travel to space and as easy as being on an airplane. Inside the capsule, Explorers will enjoy the comforts of the world’s first Space Lounge, complete with Wi-Fi, a world-class culinary program, plush seating and luxury amenities provided by its growing list of partners, panoramic views through the largest windows ever flown to space – even a proper restroom (a serene, beautifully designed private enclosure that they company is calling the Space Spa).

Mercedes-Maybach Partnership | OREO Space Dunk Partnership

Space Perspective is on a mission to bring more humans to space than ever before.  Working with NGOs and continuing to develop its carbon-neutral operational plan, the company hopes to create positive impact and a better future for the planet. Astronauts often return from missions with a deeper understanding of our home and humanity’s place within it – many are compelled to get involved in environmental and societal issues. It’s an insight that drives not only Space Perspective’s employees, but also its expanding Explorer community.

The luxury experiences market is expected to double from $1T to $2T by 2030, and is seeing more emphasis placed on experiences vs. goods – including trends around transformative, sustainable and bespoke trips – for all age groups. With the world’s growing high-net-worth population and adventure tourism on the rise as one of the fastest-accelerating tourism markets, Space Perspective finds itself well positioned as a first mover to capture the global demand in a severely supply constrained industry.

Now ready to resume test flights, the company is one giant leap closer.

Space Perspective aims to begin taking its more than 1,750 current ticket holders – more than any other space tourism company – to the edge of space in 2025, and is expected to hit 4,000 seats sold – $400M 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].

About Space Perspective

Space Perspective, the world’s first carbon-neutral spaceflight experience company, is on a mission to make space travel more accessible than ever before. Its innovative Spaceship Neptune, which comprises a pressurized capsule propelled by a giant SpaceBalloon, offers a safe and transformative six-hour journey to the edge of space.

With no rockets, weightlessness, heavy g-forces, or training required, the experience is designed to be as gentle on Explorers as it is on the Earth. Those who fly with Space Perspective, which is being regulated by the FAA as well as the U.S. Coast Guard and follows guidelines established by NASA, enjoy a world-class meal and cocktail service, Wi-Fi, unprecedented views through the largest windows ever flown to space, and a proper restroom, which it calls the Space Spa  – all from the comforts of the world’s first Space Lounge.

Based on Florida’s Space Coast, Space Perspective was founded by human spaceflight veterans Jane Poynter and Taber MacCallum, who met as original crew members in Biosphere 2. They went on to launch Paragon Space Development Corporation, which develops tech for environmental control systems that can be found on the International Space Station (ISS). Space Perspective’s team more broadly has been instrumental in the development of every U.S. human spacecraft for the past 40 years.

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SOURCE Space Perspective

Originally published at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/space-perspective-unveils-the-future-of-human-space-travel-302065695.html
Images courtesy of https://pixabay.com

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