On a Balloon to the Edge of Space with Spaceship Neptune

Transport design studio PriestmanGoode has developed a concept for a high-performance balloon and pressurised capsule for Space Perspective to take space tourists on a “cruise” around the stratosphere.

Designed for American space tourism startup Space Perspective, the two-part spaceship is comprised of a four-metre-tall and five-metre-wide pressurised pod shaped like a spinning top, which is attached to a giant high-altitude balloon.

The Neptune craft will take up to eight “explorers” and a suite of research payloads on a six-hour journey to the upper edge of earth’s atmosphere.

Described by Space Perspective co-founder Taber MacCallum as “off-world yet classic”, PriestmanGoode’s capsule design features floor-to-ceiling windows to grant space tourists a panoramic viewing experience. “The design of the capsule is a critical component of providing our explorers the inspirational experience that astronauts describe of seeing our Earth in space,” added co-founder Jane Poynter.

The journey would see a pilot launch from the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, to fly passengers on a two-hour ascent above 99 per cent of the earth’s atmosphere to 100,000 feet (around 30,000 metres).

Here it will “cruise” above the earth for up to two hours, to enable voyagers to take in the view and record the experience.

The craft will then embark on a two-hour descent under the balloon before landing in the Atlantic ocean, where a ship will collect the passengers, the capsule and the balloon and transport them back to land.