Billionaire investor and businessman Henry Kravis is among the new investors backing Space Perspective Inc.’s vision of luxury space balloon flights.
A new financing round will inject the Titusville-based company with $17 million, Space Perspective announced May 19. That money, which brings Space Perspective’s total capital raised since its founding to $65 million, further funds the 3-year-old startup’s hiring spree and buildout of its elevated space travel experience, founder and co-CEO Jane Poynter told Orlando Inno.
The company’s trips, set to begin in late 2024, will take up to eight passengers on a six-hour balloon journey that peaks nearly 20 miles above Earth. The gradual, 12-mile-per-hour climb, along with a two-hour stop at the edge of space, gives passengers plenty of time to soak in the views of Earth from above.
Dozens of hires on the way
A $40 million Series A investment round in October funded Space Perspective through the start of commercial flights, which is expected before the end of 2024.
Now, the firm is focused on designing the spaceflight experience for its customers, who pay $125,000 per seat, Poynter said.
The company in April revealed renderings of the interior of Spaceship Neptune, the capsule where passengers will sit during the balloon ride. The lounge will feature reclining seats, a bar, information touchscreens and windows in the bathroom so passengers “never miss the incredible views,” according to the company’s announcement.
To see inside the lounge, check out the photo gallery above.
Meanwhile, the team is growing fast. The company now employs more than 70 people, and it expects to employ 100 by the end of the year, Poynter said. Space Perspective seeks to fill six high-wage positions like mechanical engineer, launch and fluids engineer, and quality technician.
In addition to Kravis, co-founder and co-CEO of New York-based private equity firm KKR & Co. Inc. (NYSE: KKR), Space Perspective brought on two sources of debt financing: Santa Clara, California-based Silicon Valley Bank and Phoenix-based Trinity Capital Inc. (Nasdaq: TRIN). Space Perspective’s approach to out-of-this-world travel stands out because it’s safe but provides a unique experience, Trinity Capital Managing Director Ryan Thompson said in a prepared statement. “Space Perspective is leading the way in reimagining space travel.”
A $40 billion industry
Space Perspective has moved fast since it closed a $7 million seed investment round with help from Central Florida investors in 2020. The company successfully completed its first test flight in June 2021, and has sold about 40% of its available tickets.
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The firm’s presence in Central Florida soon may bring construction and hundreds of new jobs. The company plans to build a 120,000-square-foot Titusville manufacturing facility by 2023, creating 240 full-time, high-wage jobs by 2026. Poynter declined to share any updates on the manufacturing complex, saying more news on the facility is coming soon.
The emerging space tourism industry is a potential economic driver for the aerospace sector in Brevard County, the longtime home of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and a flourishing private aerospace sector anchored by operations of Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin LLC. Investment bank UBS projects the space tourism sector will be worth $4 billion by 2030.