STRATOSPHERIC BALLOON TOURS
A new spaceflight startup called The Space Perspective is planning to provide space tours of the upper stratosphere to paying customers. Using a stratospheric balloon tethered to a space capsule, the service will offer breathe-taking views of the Earth’s curvature from the comfort of a first-class cabin. The service will primarily serve space tourists, but Space Perspective also intends to provide rides for scientific research and educational projects.
Space Perspective intends to launch its first test flights in 2021, with operational flights beginning within four to five years. Once fully operational, the company plans to complete about 100 flights annually from each of its launch sites. Several sites are being considered, including in Hawaii. Such a launch site could include a manufacturing facility and flight maintenance center, providing about 200 jobs with salaries averaging more than $60,000 per year.
Space tours would add a unique dimension to Hawaii’s bread and butter tourism industry. During a normal year (without a pandemic), the state draws more than 10 million visitors to enjoy the unique landscapes, tropical weather and luxurious resorts scattered throughout the islands. Adding a trip to the upper stratosphere would surely add an unprecedented adventure to any Hawaii vacation.
An artist rendering of “Shapeship Neptune” with passengers overlooking Earth. Credit: The Space Perspective