A rival firm to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Space Perspective, has revealed its grand plans for getting tourists into space.

The Florida-based startup has announced how it intends to take passengers to the “edge of space” in ships that use the same idea as hot air balloons.

Called Project Neptune, it will consist of a pressurised capsule attached to the high-tech version of the classic balloon.

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The announcement of the plans could shake up the 21st-century space race, which so far has been dominated by billionaire-backed firms like Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

What sets Space Perspective apart from the rest though, is the type of contraption that will be used to get people up to the edges of Earth.

Project Neptune will offer a number of features that will make it different to the rocket-based projects of the established big three.

By using a balloon the ride will be a smooth and – providing you’re not terrified of the sheer distance from the ground – probably quite relaxing journey.

The scale of the new project is also substantially smaller in terms of what it sets out to achieve when compared to its rivals.

While Blue Origin crafts travel some 60 miles above the surface of the Earth, Neptune will only make it up to the 20-mile mark.

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It will, however, last much longer as it floats up to its ceiling, giving the eight lucky passengers plenty of time to soak in the world-beating views.

Blue Origin’s flight only lasts 11 minutes from start to finish.

Unfortunately, for anyone hoping to touch the stars in the near future, a ticket up will cost around £103,000 – although it is still substantially cheaper than the £392,000 ticket for a ride on Branson’s Virgin Galactic.

The founder and co-CEO of Space Perspective, Taber MacCallum, said: “Centuries of balloon and parachute operation and development demonstrate that always flying with the balloon from launch through landing, with traditional parachutes as a reserve backup system, is by far the simplest, safest and most robust solution.

“Our proprietary flight system means that the capsule and SpaceBalloon always remain connected, and take-off and landing conditions are always within our control.

“The team has come together to create an amazingly robust, safe, and incredibly elegant and luxurious system for Spaceship Neptune.”


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