Once a notion of science fiction, some tourists are now looking beyond jetting overseas and instead reaching for the stars. Will a summer break be spent on the beach looking to the horizon where the sea and sky meet or looking down from the edge of space, witnessing the Earth in its entirety? This is the mission for luxury spaceflight experience operator Space Perspective; to facilitate a future of more accessible space tourism.

The company’s head of global sales and trade Edyta Teper, speaking on her vision for space tourism, said: “One day in the future, a family might be sitting there weighing up if they want to go to Disneyland or visit space this summer.”  

Space Perspective will take passengers up 100,000 feet, above 99% of the Earth’s atmosphere, on its Spaceship Neptune vessel. The vessel is comprised of a pressurised capsule, almost resembling a spinning top with its splashdown cone at the base to allow for a smoother landing into water and is buoyed up by the company’s SpaceBalloon. The vessel offers panoramic views of Earth with the capsule surrounded by windows that are 1.54 meters high and 0.56 meters wide, making them the largest ever flown to space. The company’s cofounder and co-CEO Taber MacCallum said: “The space capsule is like nothing the world has ever seen.”

Rendering of Space Perspective’s Spaceship Neptune. Image by Space Perspective.

Prelaunch, passengers will arrive at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. After an information and safety briefing, they will launch from Marine Spaceport Voyager or from land on Florida’s Space Coast to the edge of space. At around the four-hour mark, the vessel will begin its descent back down to Earth, which will take around two hours. The vessel and its passengers are then retrieved from either the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico, depending on the season of travel. 

Space Perspective believes it to be a transcendent experience for passengers, allowing them to behold a spectacle only around 600 people have ever witnessed. Teper also said the the flight also comes with the creature comforts we’ve grown accustomed to back on Earth with “a world-class meal and cocktail service, Wi-Fi”, adding a luxurious icing on top of the experience. It’s first SpaceBalloon, a test capsule vessel, Excelsior was finished and unveiled in February, 2024. 

Behind the scenes of Space Perspective’s Spaceship Neptune. Image by Space Perspective.

The demand for space travel tourism is apparently higher than Space Perspective can supply. It has sold more than 1,650 tickets for flights over the next several years, worth $200 million in sales with each ticket being worth $125,000. This reportedly surpassed other seats sold by space tourism operator Virgin Galactic. Clearly, passengers are ready for space tourism while the industry is still catching up.  

Virgin Galactic had completed its inaugural commercial space flight on the VSS Unity in June 2023, followed by five more flights up until November that year. The company suspended VSS Unity flights in January the following year to invest into its next generation of sub-orbital space vehicles, the Delta Class. Virgin Galactic aims to resume flights in 2026, making Space Perspective the only commercial space flight currently on the market.  

Adventure tourism such as space travel experiences has grown in popularity in recent years. And research by the Grand View Research in 2022 bodes well with it predicting the industry to expand 15.2% by 2030 to over $1 trillion. However, the upward trajectory of adventure tourism may have been hampered after the Titanic submersible ‘Titan’ disaster in June 2023. The tragedy captured the world as its passengers were lost to the sea’s depths, eventually claiming the five lives onboard with the vessel’s implosion. Following the event, adventure tourism’s legitimacy as a safe venture was called into question.  

Adventure tourism may still continue to thrive, though, as “people are naturally curious and many are risk takers,” said battleface CEO Sasha Gainullin, speaking to Aviation Life, “so they will always look for the next thing to do.” He added: “we have recently introduced a new range of adventurous activities to our regular products which has triggered a rise in sales.”  

Passengers on the Spaceship Neptune can look to companies like battleface which offers space travel insurance to mitigate the risks of more extreme tourism voyages. battleface launched its space travel insurance product in 2021. Gainullin said: “in 2021, we witnessed a rush to get the first fare-paying passenger into space, yet there were no products available to provide insurance cover for such passengers.”  

Supplying the demand, battleface’s space travel insurance policy offers benefits covering accidental death and permanent disablement. Gainullin said space travel insurance is “the natural next step” for travel insurance in response to the changing demands and requirements of travellers. “Space tourism is in its extreme infancy but is expected to grow over the coming years,” Gainullin said. “The rate of growth will depend on the safety and affordability of the various programmes.” 

Gainullin added: “Space flight has been part of our lives since 1961 when Yuri Gagarin became the first person to be launched into orbit. However, while there have been regular trips into space it is only now that the commercial opportunities are starting to be realised. Where it goes from here will be the subject of many pressures, from commercial interests to environmental concerns.” 

Teper said: “Companies who embrace travel right now can offer their clients a unique and valuable service – positioning themselves as experts in this emerging field and opening exciting and exclusive opportunities for their clients – while capturing the growing lucrative market before it really takes off.”  

Perhaps, then, companies should look to the stars for future investment as the tourism industry continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible. As commercial space travel goes into orbit, it could herald the emergence of a new frontier for tourism.