Former Chouest OSV to support balloon flights to space

(HOUSTON) — The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) is supporting the reactivation and modification of an offshore support vessel (OSV) that will function as the world’s first marine spaceport for human spaceflight operated by Space Perspective.

Space Perspective offers a six-hour journey to space in a pressurized capsule propelled gently by a SpaceBalloon. With no heavy g-forces or training required, it is as easy as being in an airplane. Designed to be accessible and a shared experience – the capsule accommodates eight passengers and a captain — explorers will join the fewer than 700 individuals who have seen the Earth from the perspective of space.

Space Perspective photo

Space Perspective will launch its spaceship, called Spaceship Neptune, from land at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and now also from sea thanks to MS Voyager, which will reside on the coast of Florida, where the company is based. The first in a planned fleet of ships globally for Space Perspective, MS Voyager will also eventually enable flights around the Gulf and Caribbean.

The vessel will transport passengers to an approved offshore location where the SpaceBalloon will fill with hydrogen and lift Spaceship Neptune and its explorers 20 miles above the Earth. At the end of the six-hour flight, the pressurized capsule will gently splash down in the ocean where MS Voyager will retrieve it.

ABS is providing class, engineering review and regulatory services for MS Voyager, with completion expected later this year.

“ABS is already a pioneer in the field of offshore space support, with our industry-leading work on autonomous rocket recovery drone ships. This is an exciting new arena, and ABS has a key role to play in supporting the safe development and implementation of offshore assets for new applications, including those by innovators such as Space Perspective who are looking to the ocean as the base for space voyages,” said Miguel Hernandez, ABS senior vice president, Global Offshore.

Modifications to the 292-foot-long OSV – formerly C Challenger, built and operated by Edison Chouest Offshore — are already underway and will include the addition of the SpaceBalloon launch system and a space capsule A-frame, which will house Spaceship Neptune using a specially designed cradle on the aft deck.

“The future of space travel is on the water. MS Voyager unlocks flexible launch locations, ideal launch conditions, and more frequent launch opportunities. Our collaboration with the experts at ABS is helping us make space travel more accessible to the world than ever before,” said Taber MacCallum, founder and co-CEO of Space Perspective. “ABS is a crucial partner in how we’ve reimagined commercial space travel and our ability to offer life-changing views of the most incredible natural phenomena from space in a way that’s safe, accessible and carbon neutral. ABS’ expertise to certify the world’s first marine spaceport in MS Voyager is making this all a reality.”

– American Bureau of Shipping

By Rich Miller