A French startup called Zephalto will soon give people the opportunity to dine in style while floating at the edge of space. The journey involves riding in a big balloon, taking off from France, and going up to 15.5 miles (25 km) high during a six-hour round trip. Originally scheduled for 2025, they’ve moved their first flight to the end of 2024.
However, this extraordinary experience comes with a hefty price tag. Pre-sale tickets will cost around £105,000 (€120,000) per person, making it about 100 times more expensive than the fanciest Michelin star restaurant on Earth. In return, passengers will witness an awe-inspiring view of the Earth, the sun, and the stars, a privilege once reserved for astronauts.
The balloon’s capsule, which has a large window, can carry six passengers and two pilots. It will rise at a speed of 4m/s and take about an hour-and-a-half to reach its highest point. There, passengers will enjoy three hours at the edge of space, well above 98 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere and twice as high as commercial jets fly. To top it off, they’ll savor gourmet meals prepared by famous French chefs and expertly selected wines.
For added comfort, passengers can choose their own music or opt for the serene ‘space silence.’ No special training or age restrictions are needed to board the balloon; anyone fit to fly on a regular plane can join.
However, one thing you won’t experience on the Céleste balloon is zero gravity, unlike Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin rocket New Shepard. Zephalto plans to run 60 flights each year and emphasizes its low environmental impact compared to rocket-based space tourism.
Zephalto uses a balloon filled with helium and hydrogen, which is less damaging to the environment than the powerful greenhouse gases released by rockets. The founder of Zephalto, Vincent Farret d’Astiès, is excited to offer an immersive experience that combines Earth and space for affluent travelers.
Zephalto isn’t the only company offering such adventures. A U.S. company called Space Perspective is also planning to start balloon journeys next year.