Spaceship Neptune
Space Perspective says the $17 million it raised will accelerate its growth as it develops a stratospheric balloon system designed to carry passengers. Credit: Space Perspective

TITUSVILLE, Fla. — Space Perspective has raised an additional $17 million to further development of its stratospheric passenger balloon system that simulates one aspect of spaceflight.

The company announced May 19 it raised the funding from several new investors, including Silicon Valley Bank, Trinity Capital and Henry Kravis, co-founder of investment company KKR and Co. Space Perspective has raised more than $65 million to date.

Florida-based Space Perspective is developing Spaceship Neptune, a stratospheric balloon system that will loft a capsule carrying eight passengers and one crew member to an altitude of about 30 kilometers. The capsule would remain aloft for several hours, providing those passengers with views of the Earth similar to what can be seen from space, before descending to an ocean splashdown. The flights will be performed under a license the company will obtain from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation.

Space Perspective raised $40 million in a Series A round in October 2021, which at the time executives said would fully fund the company through the start of commercial operations. In a statement, Space Perspective said the additional funding would “accelerate the company’s continued growth,” although it is still targeting the start of commercial operations in late 2024.

Space Perspective is setting up operations at Space Coast Spaceport, also known as Space Coast Regional Airport near the Kennedy Space Center. The company expects to grow to 240 employees by 2026, and has hired a number of experts in fields ranging from high-altitude balloons to spacecraft marine recovery.

The company is selling seats for $125,000 each and has said its first year of flights is sold out, but has not disclosed a specific number of tickets sold.

Space Perspective is in competition with World View, a company that revived last year its original plans for passenger stratospheric balloon flights after spending several years working on balloons carrying payloads. World View is offering its flights, starting as soon as early 2024, for $50,000 per ticket. It announced May 4 it had collected 1,000 reservations, each requiring a $500 deposit.

Both companies have released concepts of their passenger cabins, including a full-scale model World View displayed at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, in March. Both designs include reclining seats and large windows to maximize the view. “Even the restroom will have a view!” Space Perspective said in an April 12 announcement of its capsule.

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...