Jane Poynter, co-founder of Space Perspective, says space tourism is inspiring
The success of Blue Origin‘s space tourism flights have sparked concerns among the public and well-known figures, such as Prince William, who say it is a rich person’s game that is unnecessary when Earth badly needs help.
For Jane Poynter, 59, co-founder of Space Perspective – a firm using a giant balloon to send humans into the stratosphere – the industry is not starving the Earth of help, but helping its inhabitants better understand their world.
‘Space exploration has formed a crucial role in forming our understanding of our planet,’ she told DailyMail.com in an interview.
‘The most downloaded image in history is Earth Rise that was taken on Christmas Eve in 1968 by Apollo Astronauts as they circled the moon.
‘Taking the photo was not on their schedule of activities but they were so struck by the image that they rushed to capture it.
‘That one photograph of seeing our Earth in space helped humanity see Earth as a planet in space, and inspired a burgeoning environmental movement.
‘The Apollo era inspired two generations of scientists and engineers, not just to pursue careers in space but reminded us that we could do anything we set our minds to.
‘That was the saying – ‘if we can go to the moon, then surely we can do x.’ Spaceflight has an extraordinary power to inspire people of all ages.’
Poynter explained that eventually, millions of people will have the same experience as 90-year-old actor William Shatner, who launched on a Blue Origin rocket on October 13.
‘And it will have a ripple effect through our society,’ she added.
Tickets for a ride through Space Perspective currently run $125,000 a seat, but Poynter said the ‘long term vision is to bring pricing down significantly.
‘A ticket price of, say, $30-$40K would allow many millions of people to afford to space to experience Earth from that perspective.’
Poynter said the industry is not starving our world of help, but helping its inhabitants evolve. She is the founder of Space Perspective that will send humans to the edge of space by means of a giant balloon sometime in 2024
When asked about Prince William’s comments, Poynter told DailyMail.com: ‘When people visit space and experience our Earth from that vantage point, they connect deeply with our planet and the singular human family that inhabits it.
‘They see the tenuously thin blue line of our atmosphere and understand that we are indeed all in this together.
‘It broadens their perspective and they return with a deepened commitment to social and environmental causes.
‘Imagine a society where thousands, hundreds of thousands and eventually millions have gone to space, it will have a huge ripple effect through our society. It will change the world for good forever.’
This year, we have seen different kinds of people, from all walks of life go where only astronauts have gone before, according to Poynter, who sees Space Perspective being a part of the mission
Earlier this month, the Duke of Cambridge criticized the race to leave Earth and said we instead need the world’s greatest brains and minds ‘fixed on trying to repair this planet’
She also explained that her company’s Spaceship Neptune is a zero emissions way to travel to space, and Space Perspective is conducted as a carbon neutral operation.
Space Perspective, founded in 2019, is designing a luxurious capsule that fits six passengers, who relax in reclining seats or enjoy a drink at the bar while soaring 20 miles above Earth.
‘Imagine getting up very early, it is dark out, and you are handed beverage while relaxing in a comfy chair. Then you slowly travel 12mph to space,’ said Poynter.
‘The sky is completely dark, allowing you to see stars like you have never seen before. Then you will start to see the sunrise.
‘What happens at this altitude is it creates amazing rainbows and then the sun will start coming up, allowing you to see that icon thing blue line that Shatner was talking about after his epic journey.’
The entire six-hour experience costs $125,000 a ticket, less than what Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic are charging – a seat on the latter costs $250,000, while Blue Origin has not revealed pricing.
Poynter explained that eventually, millions of people will have the same experience as actor William Shatner, who launched on a Blue Origin rocket on October 13
Poynter says she plans on taking the journey herself one day aboard Space Perspective’s giant balloon.
‘I think space travel is inspirational,’ she added.
‘My generation was all about the Apollo program, which inspired two generations of people to image what they could be beyond what they ever imagined before.
‘Human spaceflight has an ability to image thing they otherwise never would.’
‘Even with that, we know it will have a huge impact on our society and it will create all kinds of things we can’t image.’
Space Perspective recently announced it raised a $40 million Series A round led by VC firm Prime Movers Lab to fund the venture.
Space Perspective will launch a test flight of its balloon next year, a mission with a single person by early 2023 and then the first commercial flight a year later.
Space Perspective, founded in 2019, is designing a luxurious capsule that fits six passengers, who relax in reclining seats or enjoy a drink at the bar while the soaring 20 miles above Earth
What happens at this altitude is it creates amazing rainbows and then the sun will start coming up, allowing you to see that icon thing blue line that Shatner was talking about after his epic journey,’ Poynter told Dailymail.com
Shatner became the oldest person to visit space earlier this month, surpassing 82-year-old Mary Wallace ‘Wally’ Funk, when he launched with three others aboard a Blue Origin rocket.
Upon his return, Shatner, best known for his role as Captain Kirk in Star Trek, shared his experience.
‘Everybody in the world needs to do this,’ he said. ‘To see the blue color whip by and now you’re staring into blackness, that’s the thing.
‘The covering of blue, this sheath, this blanket, this comforter of blue that we have around, we say, “Oh, that’s blue sky.”
‘And then suddenly you shoot through it all, and you’re looking into blackness, into black ugliness.
Poynter said millions of people will eventually have the same experience as William Shatner (2nd right), who launched on the Blue Origin rocket on October 13, ‘and it will have a ripple effect through our society’
‘As you look down, there’s your blue down there with the black up there. There is Mother Earth and comfort and there is — is there death? I don’t know. Is that the way death is?’
‘I don’t know. Was that death? Is that the way death is?’
Breaking into tears, Shatner then told Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos: ‘I’m so filled with emotion with what just happened. I hope I never recover from this.’
Shatner also responded to Prince William’s comments, telling Entertainment Tonight that the royal had ‘got the wrong idea’.
The actor argued that space tourism is the first step to relocating polluting industries off of the Earth — and the creation of power stations in orbit.
CAN WE GET SHATNER’S EXACT COMMENTS IN HERE?
THE BILLIONAIRE SPACE RACE: HOW BRANSON, MUSK AND BEZOS ARE VYING FOR GALACTIC SUPREMACY
Jeff Bezos in front of Blue Origin’s space capsule
Dubbed the ‘NewSpace’ set, Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk all say they were inspired by the first moon landing in 1969, when the US beat the Soviet Union in the space race, and there is no doubt how much it would mean to each of them to win the ‘new space race’.
Amazon founder Bezos had looked set to be the first of the three to fly to space, having announced plans to launch aboard his space company Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft on July 20, but Branson beat him to the punch.
The British billionaire became Virgin Galactic Astronaut 001 when he made it to space on a suborbital flight nine days before Bezos – on July 11 in a test flight.
Bezos travelled to space on July 20 with his younger brother Mark, Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old physics student whose dad purchased his ticket, and pioneering female astronaut Wally Funk, 82.
Although SpaceX and Tesla founder Musk has said he wants to go into space, and even ‘die on Mars’, he has not said when he might blast into orbit – but has purchased a ticket with Virgin Galactic for a suborbital flight.
SpaceX became the first of the ‘space tourism’ operators to send a fully civilian crew into orbit, with the Inspiration4 mission funded by billionaire Jared Isaacman.
His flight was on a Dragon capsule and SpaceX rocket built by space-obsessed billionaire, Elon Musk and took off for the three day orbital trip on September 16 – going higher than the International Space Station.
SpaceX appears to be leading the way in the broader billionaire space race with numerous launches carrying NASA equipment to the ISS and partnerships to send tourists to space by 2021.
On February 6 2018, SpaceX sent rocket towards the orbit of Mars, 140 million miles away, with Musk’s own red Tesla roadster attached.
Elon Musk with his Dragon Crew capsule
SpaceX has also taken two groups of astronauts to the |International Space Station, with crew from NASA, ESA and JAXA, the Japanese space agency.
SpaceX has been sending batches of 60 satellites into space to help form its Starlink network, which is already in beta and providing fast internet to rural areas.
Branson and Virgin Galactic are taking a different approach to conquering space. It has repeatedly, and successfully, conducted test flights of the Virgin Galactic’s Unity space plane.
The first took place in December 2018 and the latest on May 22, with the flight accelerating to more than 2,000 miles per hour (Mach 2.7).
More than 600 affluent customers to date, including celebrities Brad Pitt and Katy Perry, have reserved a $250,000 (£200,000) seat on one of Virgin’s space trips. The final tickets are expected to cost $350,000.
Branson has previously said he expects Elon Musk to win the race to Mars with his private rocket firm SpaceX.
Richard Branson with the Virgin Galactic craft
SpaceShipTwo can carry six passengers and two pilots. Each passenger gets the same seating position with two large windows – one to the side and one overhead.
The space ship is 60ft long with a 90inch diameter cabin allowing maximum room for the astronauts to float in zero gravity.
It climbs to 50,000ft before the rocket engine ignites. SpaceShipTwo separates from its carrier craft, White Knight II, once it has passed the 50-mile mark.
Passengers become ‘astronauts’ when they reach the Karman line, the boundary of Earth’s atmosphere.
The spaceship will then make a suborbital journey with approximately six minutes of weightlessness, with the entire flight lasting approximately 1.5 hours.
Bezos revealed in April 2017 that he finances Blue Origin with around $1 billion (£720 million) of Amazon stock each year.
The system consists of a pressurised crew capsule atop a reusable ‘New Shepard’ booster rocket.
At its peak, the capsule reached 65 miles (104 kilometres), just above the official threshold for space and landed vertically seven minutes after liftoff.
Blue Origin are working on New Glenn, the next generation heavy lift rocket, that will compete with the SpaceX Falcon 9.