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The round was led by Prime Movers Lab, with additional participation from previous and new investors, including LightShed Ventures, the Explorer 1 Fund, the Yamauchi No.10 Family Office, Tony Robbins, E2MC, SpaceFund, Kirenaga Partners, Base Ventures and 1517 Fund. Founded in 2019, the company has raised $48 million to date.
The space tech sector has become increasingly heated this year—with venture funding now topping $5.7 billion for the year, according to Crunchbase data—and while most folks know about the likes Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Space Perspective is taking a very different view of space tourism.
“One of the things that differentiates us is the experience,” said Jane Poynter, co-CEO and chief experience officer. “We offer luxury. Luxury is more about the experience nowadays.”
The Kennedy Space Center, Florida-based company has developed what it calls a “SpaceBalloon”—similar to a hot air balloon, but powered by hydrogen and with a pod capable of holding eight passengers and a pilot instead of a basket.
The company is aiming to start commercial flights in the second half of 2024, taking folks more than 100,000 feet into the air—the “edge of space,” as the company calls it—for a six-hour flight.
The recent Blue Origin flight with actor William Shatner lasted about 10 minutes and went up about 350,000 feet.
Poynter said the balloon—called Spaceship Neptune—offers similar views of Earth compared to others in space tourism, while also offering amenities such as food, a full bar and Wi-Fi. Space suits are not required, and since it is a balloon and not a rocket, takeoff is a much smoother experience, as it reaches only 12 miles per hour during ascent and descent.
The difference in experience was enough for Anton Brevde, Prime Movers Lab partner and Space Perspective board member, to invest.
“We saw demand in space tourism, but no solution,” said Brevde, whose firm has made a half dozen investments in the space tech sector. “The SpaceBalloon is just inherently superior in so many ways to other forms of travel. I want to go to space one day, but not for four minutes.”
Space Perspective plans to use the new funding for continued development of its balloon. The 50-person company completed its first unmanned test flight safely in June and will do more next year. It will hold its first test flight with a human in 2023, Poynter said.
If all goes well, the company will launch commercially in late 2024, she said. The company already has sold all its seats for its first 25 flights in 2024-25, and about half its seats for its100 flights planned in 2025-26 are sold, she added. With eight seats available per flight, each flight would bring in about $1 million.
“This is a better, smarter way to provide a space tourism experience,” Brevde said.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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