Funding provides lift off for space project

Space tourism moved another step close this week as a firm which is set to offer flights under a giant balloon said it would be sending its first test flight next year.

US-based Space Perspective announced it has closed a $7 million series seed financing for the development and early flights of Spaceship Neptune to the edge of space.

It said the funding brings the firm “another step closer to fundamentally changing the way people have access to space for research and tourism”.

The company’s first test flight, Neptune 1, is slated for around the end of first quarter 2021 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre Shuttle Landing Facility (managed by Space Florida). This test flight will be with an un-crewed, unpressurised capsule and is the first step towards operational flights, currently targeted for 2024, with tickets going on sale in early 2021.

“We are delighted to welcome our new investors to the Space Perspective team. We selected them because they are the cutting edge of venture capital. Their active approach to supporting founders is a critical component of executing on our mission to give people the life-changing experience of seeing our planet in space,” said Space Perspective Founder and Co-CEO Jane Poynter.

The firm describes itself as: “A human spaceflight company committed to fundamentally changing people’s view and perception of Earth. The spacecraft offers opportunities for ground-breaking research and life-changing travel experiences for off-world explorers.”

“Our ability to make space accessible in unprecedented ways carries immense importance,” added Taber MacCallum, also Founder and Co-CEO. “We are grateful that this premier group of investors recognises that space tourism has arrived and is a significant driver in the future growth of commercial spaceflight.”

The firm said it will safely fly a pilot, passengers and research payloads to the edge of space and back via its Spaceship Neptune, a high-performance space balloon and pressurized capsule.

“Neptune’s gentle and comfortable six-hour flight offers people the life-changing experience of seeing Earth in the blackness of space,” it added.