With the successful launches of Blue Origin, SpaceX, and Virgin Galactic, a new era of space tourism has been successfully ushered in. But unlike these companies, two-year-old startup Space Perspective is going a different route. Other companies are planning to take people to space using rockets and spaceplanes.
The Series A was led by Prime Movers Lab, with additional participation by new investors LightShed Ventures, the Explorer 1 Fund, and Yamauchi no.10 Family Office. Additional investors include Tony Robbins, VC firms E2MC and SpaceFund, Kirenaga Partners, Base Ventures, and 1517 Fund.
Business plan and investor support for Space Perspective
Traveling to space via rockets is obviously expensive and not preferred by all customers. However, instead of going to space on a rocket, Space Perspective plans to offer rides to the stratosphere using a capsule attached to a large balloon.
This has massively attracted investors’ interest. The company announced that it has raised $40 million Series A to take it through to its first planned commercial flights in late 2024. Space Perspective has already collected 475 reservations. Each of these reservations was secured by a deposit between $10,000-$25,000. The price depended on how soon the passenger is looking to fly. The total cost of a seat is $125,000.
Advantages of using the balloon insted of rockets
Opting for the balloon has its advantages. Firstly, it is significantly cheaper. secondly, a risk-averse customer will prefer traveling in it more than a rocket. They won’t have to experience weightlessness and won’t be going as high-up into the atmosphere as well. Kármán line, the internationally recognized but invisible boundary delineating “space” at 50 miles above sea level. Instead of passing it, the stratospheric balloon will take customers to around 20 miles above Earth. This is still significantly higher than a commercial airplane ride, which only reaches around 7 miles above sea level.
Moreover, there are other perks of not going so high. As per the description, the Space Perspective balloon ride seems to look and feel more like a first-class commercial flight instead of an astronaut launch. Customers will apparently have access to Wi-Fi and even a bar. Furthermore, no special training will be required. A company spokesperson said the pre-flight safety briefing will be similar to that delivered by flight attendants today.
Details on the Space Perspective balloon flight experience
But Space Perspective promises that its six-hour ride will still offer spectacular views Especially of the curvature of the Earth and the blackness of space. The plan is for the space balloon to gradually ascend for two hours at 12 miles per hour, glide at apogee for two hours, then spend the final hours of the flight gradually descending. The capsule will splash down in the ocean. Here eight customers plus one pilot will be scooped up by a ship. This is similar to how NASA and SpaceX retrieve their crewed capsules.
Space Perspective’s Schedules and Future plans with the investment
The company successfully launched from the Space Coast Spaceport in Florida in an uncrewed, unpressurized full-sized capsule simulator to target altitude in June. This was a major milestone for the company. The next series of test flights will also be uncrewed, followed by the first piloted test flight in 2023.
Space Perspective was founded by husband and wife and co-CEOs Jane Poynter and Taber MacCallum. The pair were crew members of Biosphere 2. It was an ambitious and eccentric project to recreate Earth’s conditions in an enclosed system. They later founded Paragon Space Development Corporation. It develops life-support systems for astronauts and World View Enterprises. It is a company developing stratospheric balloons for remote sensing. Earlier this month, World View also announced it would offer stratospheric balloon rides by 2024, for $50,000.