Space Perspectives, a USA-based space tourist company, announced last week that it was reviving plans to take tourists to space.
This time, the space entrepreneurs have called their hydrogen hot air balloon Spaceship Neptune and intend to use it to take tourists up towards the edge of the atmosphere for awesome views of the planet.
Beginning its journey at the Kennedy Space Centre in Orlando, the specially designed balloon will carry up to eight people 19 miles into the sky inside a pressurised capsule. The ascent takes two hours, travelling at a smooth 12mph. Once ascended, the balloon will cruise at altitude for two hours, allowing passengers to take in the awesome view of the curve of the Earth. After a two-hour descent, the ship will land in the Gulf of Mexico with passengers being returned to shore by boat.
Such an adventure comes with a price-tag, of course. Plans are made for the first tickets to sell at around the $100,000 (£80,000) mark, which though hefty is still less expensive than competitor commercial space tourist suborbital trips. These go higher into the atmosphere, where weightlessness becomes possible, but for only a few minutes. On the other hand, on the Spaceship Neptune, there will be plenty of opportunities to take photos while relaxing at the onboard bar.
For balloon enthusiasts who want to take to the skies without resorting to space travel, we offer hot air balloon adventures in the skies over Bath, Bristol, and other areas of the South West.