Space Perspective, a space tourism company, is converting a 294' Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO) offshore service vessel to a marine spaceport designated for human space flight.
The acquisition represents the first of Space Perspective's planned global fleet of converted spaceport vessels, which will act as launching sites for its balloon-driven passenger spacecraft.
At this year’s International WorkBoat Show, ABS and Space Perspective announced that the program will be launched late next year or in 2025.
“There is a growing demand for a very unique type of offshore space support vessel, that is growing the space industry. Locally, these are being called space support vessels (SSVs). They’re different than your typical OSVs. These are going out there to recover people, to recover capsules, to launch rockets,” said Tyson Breedlove, ABS manager of business development global offshore. “With this unique operating profile, there are unique operating risks. This is where ABS comes in to help support these innovative companies to offer regulatory advice.”
The former ECO C Challenger has been renamed Voyager and is undergoing renovations at Conrad Shipyard, Morgan City, La. The outfitting includes a balloon launch system and a Supreme Integrated Technologies space capsule A-frame, built for the capsule’s retrieval operations.
The Voyager's Capt. Brian Dietz touched on additional modifications that Conrad is working on. “The ECO C Challenger was a 240’ supply boat. It was lengthened to 272’, and we lengthened it again another 22’. We increased the capacity. We put some accommodations on the vessel. We’ve converted some liquid mud and dry bulk tanks, and two ballast tanks and taken that off. We’ve rebuilt every single thruster and a lot of new wiring.
“Our biggest change was the Subchapter change from L, which is an OSV, to I, which is now a cargo miscellaneous vessel," Dietz continued. "That’s the biggest hurdle, and that constitutes us working together with ABS on safety procedures, regulations, and just work in a harmonious relationship.”
Voyager will transport passengers to an offshore location launch site. Once in its designated position, a giant hydrogen-filled space balloon will lift Space Perspective’s commercial spaceship, Spaceship Neptune, carrying passengers 20 miles above the Earth.
Capt. Dietz was asked about a first flight date putting the first customer into space. “If everything goes well, we have to prove concept this year. Several test flights. But I would say the end of 2024 to 2025. We have an extreme amount of interest. We have over 1,650 tickets already sold,” said Dietz.
Tickets are currently selling for $125,000 each.