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Voyager

Space Perspective

Render art of MS Voyager – Space Perspective

Extracts modified from an article written by the creator of space-offshore.com for the news site NASASpaceflight.com

Voyager is an upcoming marine spaceport launch and recovery vessel currently under construction for the space tourism company Space Perspective, which sells high-altitude balloon flights. Voyager is currently being overhauled in a Louisiana shipyard and is expected to enter service in 2024.

Named in honor of the Voyager 1 space probe, the vessel was acquired to allow the company to launch and recover its spacecraft capsule Neptune from anywhere in the world, starting with pre-approved locations near Florida. The company completed its first test flight in June 2021, launching from land near Kennedy Space Center. The capsule splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico roughly seven hours later. On that occasion, the capsule was recovered from the water using a chartered commercial vessel, GO America.

Voyager will have the capability to both launch and recover the spacecraft in an integrated, flexible solution that can also relocate to avoid bad weather — a problem that often plagues traditional rocket launches and marine capsule recovery operations. Space Perspective has previously stated it expects Voyager to be the first in a fleet of marine spaceports globally.

Space Perspective’s vessel started life under the name C-Challenger. Owned and operated by large marine firm Edison Chouest, this company completed a similar sale of two vessels to SpaceX in 2021, which later became support vessels, Bob and Doug.

Voyager is being converted at a Louisiana shipyard and will run on biofuel, a more environmentally friendly option than is traditionally found on commercial vessels of these types. The balloon will launch from Voyager to a height of 32 km, then glide for several hours, before dropping the capsule, which will splash down in the ocean and be recovered by the ship. Operational support of the ship will be provided by marine firm Guice Offshore, a company that has worked with other commercial space providers including Blue Origin and SpaceX, the latter for nearly a decade.

For recovery, Voyager will be retro-fitted with an a-frame lifting system to lift the capsule from the ocean, supported by fast boats. This system is very similar to the Dragon capsule recovery system developed by SpaceX and implemented on its recovery vessels Megan and Shannon.

The first footage of the vessel under conversion was released by Space Perspective in July 2023.

Vital Statistics

Year Built: 1998

IMO: 9132296

Length: 89m / 294 ft

Breadth: 17m / 56 ft

Joined Space Perspective: 2023

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