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10.24.20
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Startup Says It’ll Launch You Into the Stratosphere on a Balloon

__Victor Tangermann__Filed Under: Off World
Space Perspectives

Balloon Vision

A startup wants to send you to the edge of space, lifted by a giant balloon.

The company, Space Perspective, is run by husband-and-wife team Taber MacCallum and Jane Poynter, who unveiled their grand vision today, GeekWire reports.

The pair already attempted to get a similar venture off the ground in 2013, but pivoted to smaller scientific balloons in 2015 instead. They even launched a chicken sandwich in a novelty collaboration with KFC in 2017 — but the balloon sprang a leak, cutting the trip short.

It’s an ambitious concept: a balloon will hoist a capsule called Spaceship Neptune to an altitude of 100,000 feet, roughly three times the cruising altitude of commercial airlines, or “the edge of space” according to the company. A ticket will go for $75,000.

Not Quite Space

But is it really the actual edge of space? 100,000 feet falls far short from what is considered outer space. The “Kármán line” lies at an altitude of 100 kilometers (62 miles) above sea level. 100,000 feet, or 30 kilometers, lies within the Earth’s stratosphere, a primary layer of the atmosphere. Weather balloons can fly at higher altitudes.

That doesn’t mean the views won’t be spectacular. From such an altitude, customers will be able to see the curvature of the Earth and above the troposphere, the bubble of air that allows life on Earth to exist.

Ultimate Photo Opp

Ascent and descent will each take two hours, and then Spaceship Neptune will splash down in the Atlantic Ocean, where a ship will pick up passengers. Amenities on board the Neptune include a bar and airplane-style toilet.

“It will have the best view of any loo in the world,” Poynter told GeekWire.

Space Perspective has already signed a lease with spaceport authorities in Florida. Operations could begin at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, but first flights are still several years out.

READ MORE: Space Perspective reboots vision of flying passengers to stratosphere on a balloon

More on space balloons: This Startup Wants to Launch Satellites from Balloons