The next generation of space travel is coming. ”˜Neptune’, a high-performance balloon and pressurized capsule capable of transporting people to the edge of space, is being designed by Priestmangoode. The design firm, led by Nigel Goode and Paul Priestman, is working with a US-based Space Perspective on the project, which will also transport research payloads. A pilot will fly the vehicle for up to 20 passengers on a six-hour journey to the edge of space – and back safely to Earth.
“We want to give people the experience of space without having to go through the rigorous training that astronauts undergo,” Goode said. The ”˜spaceship Neptune will carry passengers and scientific payloads to 100,000 feet (30,480 m) on a two-hour gentle ascent above 99% of the earth’s atmosphere.
The capsule will be pressurized so that passengers can move about freely and unaided, and large windows will offer views of Earth and space. To return to Earth, the capsule will detach from the balloon and use a parachute for a soft landing.
Goode says that the project is still in its early stages, but they are already working on the engineering challenges and hope to begin test flights in a few years. So far, the project has been funded through private investment and grants, but Goode says they will need “tens of millions of dollars” to bring it to fruition. He is confident that there is enough interest in commercial spaceflight to make the project a success.
While Neptune is still only in the conceptual stage at this point, it has already captured the imagination of many space enthusiasts and tourists. With its ability to offer an incredible experience in space, it is likely that Neptune will soon become the ultimate destination for travelers looking to discover the final frontier.