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Commercial, high-altitude ballooning gets a lift

July 12th, 2021 / By: / What's New?

Space Perspectives has launched its first test flight from the Space Coast Spaceport in Florida, located adjacent to Kennedy Space Center. The June 18 un-crewed flight, lasted about six-and-one-half hours, reaching a maximum altitude of 108,409 feet. It splashed down as scheduled in the Gulf of Mexico. The test flight carried a number of scientific payloads, the company said. 

The Florida-based company now selling seating on its “Spaceship Neptune,” for a planned first flight late in 2024. Eight passengers and one pilot will be carried to an altitude of 100,000 feet (30,000 meters) in a six-hour flight. The vehicle is a capsule borne aloft by a hydrogen-filled balloon the size of a football field. With no rocket propulsion, it’s a zero-emission spaceflight, the company says. 

Standard NASA scientific balloons are constructed of polyethylene film; the company has not indicated what material is used for its balloons. 

The capsule does not actually reach space, as defined in technical terms, but it does have competition in the world of commercial “space travel. Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are offering suborbital trips – much higher than Space Perspective’s balloon-propelled ride but lasting a much shorter duration.