Talk about a new kind of pleasure vessel. Space Perspective plans to launch the first-ever Marine Spaceport named, appropriately, MS Voyager, for test flights in early 2023. The Cape Canaveral-based firm plans to start testing its Spaceship Neptune—a cockpit tethered to a giant space balloon—next year for six-hour civilian journeys in 2024 that will go high into the stratosphere. Unlike competitors Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, the space balloon won’t involve rockets or ten-minute spaceflights.
The 292-foot Voyager is designed to be a floating “spaceport,” which gives Space Perspective the option of launching Spaceship Neptune from either land or water. The company has a land-based launch site on Florida’s Space Coast for its initial flights in 2024, but its long-term plans include other destinations around the world.
“We always imagined offering the opportunity to view the most incredible natural phenomena from space, including the Northern Lights, the boot of Italy, the sheer scale of the Nile Delta, and the deep blue seas around the Bahamas. Marine Spaceports like MS Voyager will make this a reality,” said Jane Poynter, co-founder and CEO, in a statement.
The company says that MS Voyager will create ideal launch conditions by navigating to areas with good weather, thus allowing for year-round operations in specific regions. The vessel also moves with prevailing winds to minimize sea breezes across the deck. That will allow more frequent launch opportunities, as well as more options for the time of day, including sunrise and sunset flights that allow for more dramatic stargazing.
The vessel was built by Edison Chouest Offshore, and its marine operations will be supported by Guice Offshore. It is being retrofitted to use biofuel to reduce its carbon footprint.
The Space Perspective fleet will also use go-fast boats from Fluid Watercraft to retrieve guests and the Spaceship Neptune capsule. The boats will be stored and launched from MS Voyager. The company claims to have already sold more than 1,000 tickets, which now cost $125,000.