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Florida’s Space Perspective offers carbon-neutral voyages to space’s edge using a luxury capsule and high-tech hot-air balloon.

In the booming industry of space tourism, Florida-based Space Perspective is aiming to stand apart by offering what they claim to be the only carbon-neutral, zero-emission journey to the brink of space.

The company's vision revolves around its latest innovation, the Spaceship Neptune — a pressurized capsule carried by an expansive high-tech hot-air balloon. This isn't your ordinary balloon. Fully expanded, it can encompass a volume equivalent to a football stadium.

New images, unveiled on July 27, reveal an upgraded capsule design. It boasts a more spacious and spherical interior than earlier models, a feature that provides passengers with extra headroom and enhances safety by offering optimal pressure resistance. The capsule's interior isn't just about practicality; luxury is interwoven into the design. Travelers can expect to enjoy deep reclining seats, ambient mood lighting, and a well-equipped bar.

In a collaboration with London-based studio Of My Imagination (OMI), the company has integrated exceptional viewing experiences. Enormous 360-degree panoramic windows, described as the "largest ever to be taken to the edge of space," were conceptualized by Spaceship Neptune's experience design lead, Dan Window, alongside experienced designer Isabella Trani.

Functionality is also enhanced in this new design. According to CNN, reflective coated windows will assist in temperature control, and an innovative thermal control system is in the pipeline for patenting. For water landings, the capsule has been equipped with a new splash cone to ensure safety.

The company’s zero-emissions claims rest on the fact that rather than using high-energy rockets to jet off to space, its craft defies gravity through buoyancy.

As helium is in limited supply and needed for critical medical applications, Spaceship Neptune uses hydrogen. “The lift gas inside the balloon is lighter than air and allows Neptune to float on top of the Earth’s atmosphere like an ice cube on water,” says Space Perspective.

The spaceship is all reusable, except for the material which makes up the skin of the balloon – this will be retrieved by the team at the end of each flight and recycled.

The entire voyage is designed to be leisurely. By the close of 2024, Space Perspective aims to transport groups of up to eight guests on a six-hour journey. This will include a calm two-hour ascent to a height above 99% of Earth's atmosphere. Once there, passengers will have another two hours to marvel at the Earth's beauty before initiating the two-hour return to the ocean. The journey back to the mainland will be concluded by ship.

Ease of access and comfort is emphasized. Since the capsule doesn't break Earth's gravitational pull, travelers won't require special training. The boarding process is anticipated to be as straightforward as boarding an airplane. And to keep memories alive, Wi-Fi and onboard cameras will be available, ensuring that passengers can share their unique experiences in real-time.

However, this once-in-a-lifetime experience carries a price tag to match: $125,000 per person. This hasn't deterred enthusiasts, as nearly 900 tickets have already been purchased. Bookings are now open for 2025 and subsequent years. Additionally, Space Perspective is accommodating the modern consumer by accepting cryptocurrency payments.

An important distinction lies in the company's commitment to environmental responsibility. Helium, commonly used for buoyancy, is in limited supply and reserved for vital medical needs. Thus, Spaceship Neptune opts for hydrogen. This lift gas, lighter than air, allows the craft to float effortlessly atop Earth's atmosphere. Additionally, to solidify its eco-friendly claims, all components, save for the balloon's skin, are reusable. The material from the balloon is recycled post-flight.

By blending innovation, luxury, and sustainability, Space Perspective is carving a unique niche in the realm of space tourism.

Eunice is a sustainability writer whose passion is sharing accessible eco-friendly practices with GreenCitizen's global readership. She enjoys birdwatching during her downtime, often deriving inspiration from nature's resilience. An enthusiastic cyclist, she is also an ardent advocate of eco-friendly transport.

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