Tourists desiring to soar up to the stratosphere by a balloon have a marine launching option now.
Space Perspective, a firm that aims to start flying its customers to the stratosphere by 2024, announced that it has also acquired a “marine spaceport” vessel dubbed the MS Voyager. The ship is named after NASA’s Voyager 1 mission that, among its other accomplishments, took the fascinating “pale blue dot” picture of Earth back in 1990 from beyond Neptune’s orbit.
The vessel acquired is 292 feet long and will be tailored for launching and retrieving Spaceship Neptune capsules operated by Space Perspective, which sells its seats for about $125,000 apiece.
MS Voyager will operate on biofuel to lower its carbon footprint, with other offsets offered by the nonprofit firm Cool Effect, which is collaborating with entities such as the Wildlife Conservation Society and Yale School of Public Health.
Marine spaceports are known to create ideal launch conditions in the following ways: by navigating to areas that have good weather, which permits year-round operations in a region, and by moving with the sea breeze so that there is no wind across the deck, the Space Perspective mentioned of its decision to launch a vessel fleet.
The name Voyager honors the Voyager 1 space probe, which shot the infamous Pale Blue Dot image in 1990, & Voyager 2, which became the first and only spacecraft to visit Neptune – the name of our Spaceship. Get to know Marine Spaceport Voyager. https://t.co/qX4LKglqgg pic.twitter.com/M55NElu8fk
— Space Perspective (@SpacePerspectiv) November 17, 2022
The firm also cited other advantages, including additional launch opportunities, more options for day or night launches, and flexible destinations for passengers who could not fly to the one land launching site that Space Perspective has secured until now in coastal Florida.
The capsule Spaceship Neptune will boast a splash cone at the base to support water landings. During recovery from the ocean, the capsule will be stabilized with the help of small boats. Besides, an A-frame will also lift it onto the MS Voyager.
Space tourism is currently in the early stages as an industry. It has hit a few snags with the first providers, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin. Both these firms, unlike Space Perspective, transport passengers to altitudes over 50 miles, which NASA, the US military, and the US Federal Aviation Administration classify as outer space.
Blue Origin’s rocket flights reportedly exceed the Kármán line, thatrtedly lies at 62 miles and is considered the boundary of space by the International Astronautical Federation.
Blue Origin has reportedly executed six flights as part of suborbital tourism until now. Still, the New Shepard spacecraft is grounded until the firm finds out the root cause of a problem that occurred in an uncrewed flight that was executed in September.
Virgin Galactic uses a carrier aircraft, dubbed the VMS Eve, that drops a spaceplane maker, the SpaceShipTwo, in mid-air. The firm made a high-profile test flight with its founder Richard Branson on board in 2021 (July), which later had been revealed to have flown outside the assigned airspace (a regulatory problem).
Virgin Galactic is reportedly upgrading the fleet. It has delayed relaunching flight operations many times; it has also been planning to make a comeback in 2023. The firm is also known to be working on a series of space planes that will enhance launch rates later in the decade.
References: Republic World, Space.com