© 2023 90.7 WMFE. All Rights Reserved.
Public Media News for Central Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Space Tourism Company Coming To Florida, Promising Balloon Flights To Edge Of Space

Rendering of Space Perspective's Spaceship Neptune in flight over Florida's Space Coast. Photo: Space Perspective
Rendering of Space Perspective's Spaceship Neptune in flight over Florida's Space Coast. Photo: Space Perspective

A private company plans to launch tourists to the edge of space from Florida using a hydrogen-filled balloon. The company is aiming to launch test flights as early as next year.

Space Perspective plans to launch a capsule with eight passengers and one pilot to the edge of space -- about 100,000 feet -- where it will spend about two hours cruising through the stratosphere. It will splash down in either the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico after the flight and get picked up by a boat.

"We wanted to really simplify everything and make this as smooth and gentle ride as possible," said co-CEO Jane Poynter. "The whole vehicle now goes up on the balloon comes down on the balloon to there's no dynamic change in the flight. It's just this whole long, beautiful, smooth, gentle ride the whole way."

Space Perspective said the total trip will take about 6 hours -- so they’ve placed a bar and a toilet in the capsule for the so-called "explorers" on board. The company promises communication with the ground so they can share their experience on social media.

A ticket will cost around $125,000, although Poynter said that cost could change. The vehicle will launch from facilities at the Kennedy Space Center or the Cecil Spaceport in Jacksonville.

“We already have a space act agreement with NASA for technical launch support, and we've leased facilities at the Shuttle Landing Facility to begin our operations at Kennedy,” said co-CEO Taber MacCallum. "Kennedy is an amazing facility with the shuttle landing strip there, it's a great place to launch with great weather, as is Cecil. Florida's is blessed with a couple of really great places to do these kinds of edge of space flights."

Space Perspective has signed a lease agreement with Space Florida to locate its first Operations Center at the Midline Building at the Launch and Landing Facility, formerly known as the Shuttle Landing Facility.

"Its presence here in Florida creates not just job and supply chain opportunities, but opportunities for civilian astronauts to experience this planet Earth from the Edge of Space, a privilege previously available to only a few," said Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello.

The company hasn't picked a location to manufacture the capsule, although there's consideration to build a manufacturing facility on or near Kennedy Space Center.

Along with passengers, Space Perspective said it will also fly science payloads to the edge of space.

Brendan Byrne is WMFE's Assistant News Director, managing the day-to-day operations of the WMFE newsroom, editing daily news stories, and managing WMFE's internship program.

Byrne also hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration.
90.7 WMFE relies on donors like you. Your support allows us to provide independent, trustworthy journalism and fact-based content. Show your support today by contributing on a monthly basis or making a single online donation.