Space Tourism Lacks The Adventure Of Earthly Travels In South Florida | Frank Cerabino – Palm Beach Post

Space Perspective offers six-hour ride to edge of Earth’s atmosphere for tourists who can afford the $125,000 cost. Why not ride Palm Tran instead?

Count me out.

I’m talking about what is billed as “the world’s first luxury spaceflight experience.”

A Florida company this week began selling six-hour flights on “Spaceship Neptune,” which uses a 700-foot-tall balloon called a “spaceballoon” to lift a luxurious glass-windowed capsule, taking eight tourists at a time to a maximum height of about 100,000 feet (30 kilometers) above the Earth’s surface and back down again.

“The accessibility of Spaceship Neptune opens up space travel, offering our Explorers the same astonishing opportunity as astronauts: to gaze out at the cosmos and down on our home, experiencing the wonder-filled expansion of human consciousness,” the company, Space Perspective, announced.

No thanks. And I’m not just talking about the $125,000 individual ticket price, or the “smooth” water landing off Florida’s coast at the end of the ride.

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If I want my human consciousness challenged, I’ll take a sold-out flight on Spirit Airlines out of Fort Lauderdale, which unlike Spaceship Neptune doesn’t have reclining plush seats or a bathroom used by a maximum of eight other people.

The truth is there’s already way too much adventure here on Earth.

And as for heart-stopping thrill rides, well, you can drive to Miami on Interstate 95.

Space travel becoming an obsession of the ultra-rich All this space adventurism strikes me as the quest of a few people who are working too hard at not being bored. And the culprit for all this space-travel hype is the wild disparities of wealth that have been accelerating in recent years.

The biggest proponents of space travel are the guys who’ve made such an obscene amount of money here on Earth that the only way they can amuse themselves anymore is to get away from the planet they’ve already conquered. 

And they’re banking on selling that idea to other bored people of extraordinary means.

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Elon Musk is selling tickets for people to fly to the International Space Station. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is building a fleet of space vehicles for tourist flights to space. 

And Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is blasting himself into outer space next month on a rocket built by his space tourism company, Blue Origin.

This is testament to how hard it has gotten for the ultra-rich to impress their friends with their elaborate travel excursions. The Earth’s been done. It’s yesterday’s mono-planetary thinking. It’s time to book the galaxy.

Think of it as Thin-Airbnb.

Turning Earthlings into ‘Explorers’ There’s going to be a backlash to all this foolishness. Bezos’ trip has spawned a change.org petition that has garnered about 120,000 signatures and counting.  

“Do not allow Jeff Bezos to return to Earth,” it says.

Space Perspective, the Florida company selling tickets to the six-hour vertical trip from the Kennedy Space Center, is using a balloon, rather than a rocket, to launch its prospective tourists.

It promises to be a gentle ride up and down with Wi-Fi service the whole way.

“There will be no special training required, making this the most accessible space flight experience available in the marketplace,” its promotional material says.

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Every Explorer is couch-to-spaceship ready. TV-remote control to Major Tom. 

And as far as being space travelers, well, not to be a stickler, but the recognized boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space is something called the Kármán Line, which is 100 kilometers above the Earth, a lot higher than the advertised 30-kilometer height that will be reached by Spaceship Neptune.

But it will check the box for those who have put space travel on their to-do list, or have come to the conclusion that all the good destination weddings have been already done on Earth.

The flight has been endorsed by self-improvement guru Tony Robbins. 

“Space Perspective will deliver a life-changing experience to people across the world and help us all realize that we are part of a human family sharing this remarkable planet,” Robbins said in promoting the flight.

Journey to a bus stop: far, far awayI’m not a life coach, but I humbly submit that if you really want to experience a trip that will make you realize that you’re part of a bigger human family sharing this planet, you don’t need to spend $125,000 to be lifted by a balloon to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere while partaking in an open bar. 

You could just hop aboard the public bus, Palm Tran, for six hours. Not only would you save $124,998 on the ticket price, but you’d see some amazing sights, both inside and outside the bus. 

Is there a lavatory onboard? Hope not. What about an open bar? Possibly.

The No. 1 bus blasts off in a cloud of black smoke in Boca Raton and creeps along Federal Highway all the way to Palm Beach Gardens. With a gazillion stops along the way, it seems as long as a trip to outer space.

The No. 40 route takes travelers from West Palm Beach to Belle Glade and back, a journey that spans the vast emptiness of outer sugar country.

There are many other public transportation journeys to explore. 

And while you’re on them, you’ll see a lot of people you’re sharing the planet with — fellow travelers who might have been invisible to you in other circumstances.

Who knows? Maybe that and the bus fumes will lead to a higher form of consciousness. Or if not that, at least you’ll have a greater appreciation for your car. 

fcerabino@gannett.com

@FranklyFlorida