Space Perspective unveils 'Space Spa' restroom for balloon tourist flights (images)

a bathroom inside a large tourist balloon at the edge of space
A look inside the planned "Space Spa" lavatory for the Spaceship Neptune capsule. (Image credit: Space Perspective)

Space Perspective just unveiled the latest addition to its stratospheric tourism operation: a uniquely designed restroom, called the "Space Spa," that will become part of its Spaceship Neptune capsule. 

Spaceship Neptune, which will be carried high into Earth's atmosphere by a massive balloon, is a pressurized capsule that promises passengers a more luxurious and sedate experience than the suborbital rocket rides offered by Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic

Located within the eight-passenger capsule's Space Lounge, the Space Spa will function as a personal retreat during Spaceship Neptune flights, company representatives said. 

Related: Space Perspective unveils capsule design for balloon-borne tourist flights (images)

"One of the most consistent questions we receive when people learn that our spaceflight lasts six hours is if there will be a loo," Jane Poynter, Space Perspective's founder and co-CEO, said in a company statement. (To clarify: Spaceship Neptune will reach a maximum altitude of about 19 miles, or 30 kilometers, which is considerably below the traditionally accepted line where space begins — 62 miles, or 100 km.)

"The answer is always, of course, yes," Poynter added. "And there is no need for a vacuum toilet like astronauts contend with, or a diaper. Having a proper and beautifully designed restroom contributes significantly to the accessible and unique experience we are offering and accentuates the incredible views of the deep blackness of space, the brilliant thin blue line of our atmosphere, the stars above and the Earth below." 

The "Space Spa" will be a refuge of sorts for passengers on Space Perspective's Spaceship Neptune capsule.  (Image credit: Space Perspective)

The goal was to provide an environment closer to a spa than to a typical aircraft setting, said Dan Window, who oversees all aspects of design at Space Perspective alongside Isabella Trani. 

"Overall, we embraced softness and optimistic color tones in the Space Spa, which play nicely with the contrasting colors you will see through its two windows," Window said in the same statement. "We're also using light washes, for example, to create ambience and allow for customization of the environment as well as discourage reflections in the windows. Soothing soundscapes will be unique to what you experience in the Space Lounge, and we brought in plants as a callback to the experience that Space Perspective's founders had in Biosphere 2 [an Earth systems research facility in Oracle, Arizona]."

Spaceship Neptune is scheduled to start flying customers for the first time in late 2024.  (Image credit: Space Perspective)

Trani expanded on the spa's design, emphasizing its purpose as a solitary refuge within the capsule. 

"The Space Spa is the one place in the capsule's interior where Explorers will be able to have a moment of solitude," Trani said, referring to Space Perspective's customers. "So, it was imperative that it felt like a retreat. Explorers will find this environment cocooning and comforting, with no sharp edges, which adds to the ambience and creates a very welcoming place. On a practical level, the design benefits cleanliness, allowing for things such as surfaces that are easy to wipe down, and its soft surfaces and greenery promote sound and odor control."

Spaceship Neptune isn't just about the Space Spa, however. Space Perspective promises world-class food and beverage offerings, plush seating, and a host of amenities including bespoke headphones, Wi-Fi and specialized amenity kits.

In July, Space Perspective announced it had successfully sold over 1,600 tickets, translating to about $200 million in sales. (The going rate for a Spaceship Neptune seat is $125,000.) This figure eclipses publicly reported ticket sales of any other space tourism venture. 

Space Perspective is planning to conduct its first commercial flights in late 2024.

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 John is a science and technology journalist and contributor. He received his B.A. in English and his M.A. in Computer Science from the City University of New York, Brooklyn College, and has bylines with TechRadar, Live Science, and other publications. You can find him on Twitter at @thisdotjohn or seeking out dark sky country for spectacular views of the cosmos.