Purpose of the flight and payload description
The mission dubbed as NEPTUNE ONE was the first test flight of Space Perspective a company that is planning to offer luxury balloon flights in the near future to allow private passengers to reach the stratosphere and enjoy the view from above. The balloons will be launched from Space Coast Spaceport and will be recovered in the Gulf of Mexico.
Neptune One mission served mainly to launch a full-size capsule simulator with the same geometry as Spaceship Neptune's capsule for the completion of a full flight demonstration, from prelaunch to recovery. The balloon used was fabricated at the Balloon Facility of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, in Hyderabad, India.
The odd looking of the simulated capsule was due to the participation of Beyond Earth, which transformed the capsule aspect in an art installation to travel to near-space. This installation echoed the shape of the capsule which will eventually transport Explorers to near-space, and adopted the appearance of a jellyfish as can be seen in the image at right.
On this test mission were also flown a number of small payloads, for several institutions, including:
Higher Orbits, an educational nonprofit that uses space to promote STEAM by partnering with astronauts and students. They flew the winning projects of their recent science project competition for students grades 7-12. One experiment measured the sun's magnetic field to confirm solar minimum, the time when the sun is least active. A second measured the effects of the space environment on memory materials that are made to hold a particular shape. Their payload also included winners of their current art competition, open to all ages, illustrating Space Perspective's goals.
The University of Northern Florida flew an ozone sensors instrument, developed by Dr. Nirmal Patel and his students' team in the physics department, to test an innovative atmospheric science technology.
In addition, two other technical partners, Valispace and International Met Systems Inc., provided engineering and meteorology tools in support of the test flight.
Details of the balloon flight
Balloon launched on: 6/18/2021 at 9:23 utc
Launch site: Space Coast Regional Airport, Titusville, Florida, US
Balloon launched by: Space Perspectives
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon TIFR - 100.000 m3
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 6/18/2021
Balloon flight duration (F: time at float only, otherwise total flight time in d:days / h:hours or m:minutes - ): 6 h 39 m
Landing site: In the Gulf of Mexico, 50 miles off the Florida west coast
The balloon Neptune One was launched at 5:23 am EDT from the Space Coast Regional Airport, in Titusville, Florida. After a nominal ascent phase the balloon reached its planned altitude of 108,409 feet. Once there it traversed the Florida peninsula towards the west before splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico and being recovered at the predetermined location 50 miles off the west coast of Florida.
Total flight time was 6 hours and 39 minutes. All primary objectives of the test flight were met.