A company that plans to send passengers to the edge of space in a pressurized vehicle beneath a large balloon said Wednesday it is on track to fly a demonstration mission next year and has raised the funds needed to accomplish this.

Space Perspective, which is based at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, announced it has raised $7 million in seed funding in a round of funding led by Prime Movers Lab. This funding will help the company conduct an uncrewed test flight in 2021 and continue additional development work on its pressurized Spaceship Neptune vehicle.

Inside this Neptune craft, a pilot and eight passengers will spend about two hours ascending to 30km, above 99 percent of the atmosphere. From this vantage point, beneath a balloon with the diameter of a US football field, the passengers would spend about two hours experiencing the view and “Earth overview” effect. Neptune would then take about two hours descending back to Earth. Envisioned to be nearly 5 meters across, the reusable Neptune is designed to fly as much as once per week. Only the parachute is discarded after each flight.

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