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Balloon rides to space: Is it worth $125,000 for a ticket?

Forget space ships, the new route to space is balloon rides

This illustration provided by the American Museum of Natural History depicts the planet Earth, center, with the Sun in the background.
This illustration provided by the American Museum of Natural History depicts the planet Earth, center, with the Sun in the background.
Associated Press

The newest phase of space travel is officially underway, reports CNet. Unmanned tests have begun to travel to space via balloon — yes, you read that right. Balloons.

Forget rocket ships, space balloons may be the luxury way to visit space, says CBS News.

What are these space balloon flights?

Space Perspective, a private company based in Florida, has officially opened reservations for passengers on its space balloon flights. The first liftoff is scheduled for 2024 from the Florida Kennedy Space Center, according to CBS News.

  • The Neptune One space craft uses a hydrogen-fueled balloon the size of a football field to lift eight passengers and a pilot into space, says CBS News.
  • Flights will last six hours and 37 minutes. The 12 mph ascent will last two hours and reach a peak altitude of 100,000 feet or just below 20 miles, says Yahoo News. The balloon will float at this altitude for two hours before returning to earth.

Balloon flights will first launch from Florida then other areas of the U.S. and eventually internationally, says Yahoo News.

Is the flight worth it?

Tickets for a ride on the Neptune flight will cost $125,000 each. To reserve a spot, prospective passengers must pay a refundable $1,000 for a single ticket or $8,000 to reserve the full space craft, reports CNet.

Space balloon flights are set to offer a few advantages to commercial space ship flights. Balloon passengers will have Wi-Fi, reclining seats, a fully stocked bar and bathrooms, says CBS News.

  • According to Space Perspective co-founder Jane Poynter, “Everything is slow, gentle and comfortable. You’re not blasting into space on top of a rocket, with the fury and vibrations that involves,” per Yahoo News.
  • Compared to Virgin Galactic’s $250,0000 tickets or Blue Origin’s $28 million ticket for the maiden voyage, the cost of riding on a balloon to space is low, says Robb Report, a luxury news outlet.

However, visiting space via balloon means not technically visiting space. Neptune space flights will not cross the Kármán Line, the official line 62 miles up where Earth’s atmosphere and outer space meet, says Robb Report. Weightlessness begins at the Kármán Line so space balloon travelers will not experience weightlessness.