Imagine floating on the edge of space at the break of dawn, with the curve of the Earth below you and a sea of stars above. Now imagine experiencing this wonder from the comfort of a pressurized luxury space balloon, complete with recliners, refreshments, and WiFi. Jane Poynter is the Founder and Co-CEO with Taber MacCallum of Space Perspective, the human spaceflight company providing unprecedented access to space with its zero-emissions space balloon for civilians and researchers alike. With commercial flights in the luxury balloon, Spaceship Neptune, planning to launch in 2024, Space Perspective will offer the transformational experience of seeing Earth from the edge of space.
Exclusive Resorts is thrilled to partner with Space Perspective, becoming the first privately chartered travel group to fly in Spaceship Neptune, planned for late 2024 or early 2025. Club Members will be among the first to fly to the edge of space—where scarcely anyone has traveled before. Learn more about what this once-in-a-lifetime experience will be like in our exclusive Q&A with Jane Poynter.
How did you first become interested in space and space exploration?
As a kid I was wild about Sci-fi. Then, spending two years and twenty minutes inside Biosphere 2—a sealed, three-acre self-sustaining biosphere and habitat—I realized how viscerally part of the biosphere I was. I breathed in oxygen from the plants and exhaled carbon dioxide which went back into the earth, into the sweet potatoes we were growing. We had a deep understanding of our place on Earth. This is a similar experience to what astronauts have in space, and we want others to be able to have the same.
How did the idea of Space Perspective come to be?
Inside Biosphere 2, I got a unique perspective on the planet we live on and how connected we all are to the Earth and one another. Taber and I want to give as many people as possible the experience of seeing the world from space. A space balloon makes this exploration more accessible to people from all walks of life, as it is easier to travel on and doesn’t require special training, unlike a rocket.
What will the flight experience be like? What are the benefits of traveling in a balloon versus a rocket?
A space balloon makes for a gentler and more comfortable experience, and it is much more accessible than a rocket. The experience will require an early wake-up call at pre-dawn in order to get to space as the sun rises. We will meet at the launch site at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where up to eight passengers and the pilot will board the capsule. The balloon will lift off and rise gently at 12 miles per hour, taking about two hours to get to the full altitude at 100,000 feet—three times higher than commercial airlines fly. There, the balloon drifts along the top of the atmosphere on the edge of space for roughly two hours before beginning the descent.
The balloon then splashes down into the water at the end of the flight. A ship meets the balloon and takes the capsule with the passengers in it on board, where they can then exit onto the deck. This is the most comfortable and safe way to do it, in fact it is the way they do it at SpaceX as well. The capsule we reuse, but the balloon itself will not be used again.
The entire experience is created to be comfortable. There will be refreshments onboard, as well as a lavatory. WiFi is available for posting to social media and live streaming. We can even host events such as weddings and live stream them for all to see.
What is your vision for the Space Perspective program? What is your main goal?
The Space Perspective is experience-focused around the transformational phenomenon of seeing Earth from space. When astronauts talk about their experience, they talk about having a deep realization that we are all one human family on spaceship Earth, hurtling through space in the same direction. We’re all in this together. We hope to impart a small piece of this experience to people when they go.
How are you bringing this vision to life? What challenges and setbacks have you faced?
We ultimately have been working on this concept since 2011. The majority of our time is spent honing skills on instruments and technology. We then turned our focus on the human application of space balloons. We have experienced technology challenges, and a challenge of how to land the balloon on land. We rectified this with a safe splash-down landing in the water.
What is the building/launch process like?
We are now fully focused on launching test flights for Neptune 1 in early 2021. During this test flight campaign, we will complete the entire flight profile with a capsule simulator.
What are you hoping Explorers will take away and learn from the experience?
I hope that when people see our incredible planet from space they are awed and inspired by what they see. It’s near impossible to not be truly inspired by the extraordinary view. It’s very transformational, and we hope many lives will be changed in a meaningful way.
When will flights be available?
Currently human test flights will begin in 2023 and commercial flights will be available starting in 2024.
Members who are interested in participating in a flight to space can contact Gina Bach, VP of the Experience Collection, at firstname.lastname@example.org.