Eating a Michelin-star meal on the “edge of space” could be a reality next year, if French company Zephalto has its way.
The space tourism venture, founded by former air traffic controller Vincent Farret d’Astiès, is currently selling “pre-booking tickets” for upcoming trips in a pressurized capsule, dubbed the Celeste, attached to a stratospheric balloon.
This capsule will ascend to an altitude of 25 kilometers, allowing visitors to marvel at the curvature of the Earth. Amidst gaping stares, travelers will drink and dine in style.
Pre-booked tickets cost €10,000 (R$53,300) and give buyers the chance to reserve a seat whenever tickets go on sale. In all, a trip on the Celeste will cost 120,000 euros (approximately R$ 640,000).
Zephalto said to CNN that seats on board the first flights from late 2024 to mid-2025 have already been acquired and pre-booked slots are now being sold from mid-2025 onwards.
Celeste promises to take six passengers and two pilots to the maximum altitude in just 90 minutes, at a speed of four meters per second. The capsule will float above Earth for three hours – enough time to enjoy a multi-course meal and several glasses of fine French wine.
Farret d’Astiès told the CNN that while Celeste’s food and beverage options are luxurious, “the view and overall journey remain the central focus of the offering, allowing guests to appreciate and absorb the beauty of their surroundings.”
dinner at altitude
Since Dennis Tito, the first “space tourist” took to the skies in 2001, few have followed in his footsteps. But in recent years, high-profile space tourism companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic have been making moves in this area, promising to make space the next must-go vacation spot.
Zephalto, founded in 2016, is not the only company hoping to transport passengers in a fancy hot air balloon. Florida company Space Perspective is taking reservations for its Neptune spacecraft.
It is worth remembering that there is a big difference between a trip to orbital space – involving high-speed takeoffs and longer duration – and suborbital space, in which travelers are briefly exposed to the weightlessness and views of space during a flight to the edge. of the atmosphere, 96 km above the Earth.
And trips to the “edge of space” – such as those proposed by Zephalto and Space Perspective – are again different.
These capsules don’t reach suborbital space, but they still fly significantly higher than an average commercial airliner. That means great views of Earth and stars, but without the loss of gravity and weightlessness.
Farret d’Astiès compares the atmosphere inside the Celeste to that of traveling by plane, only with more incredible views and luxurious vibes. The interior of the pressurized capsule is being planned by French designer Joseph Dirand. The designs have yet to be released, but Zephalto promises they will exude “French savoir-faire”.
“Refined and Elevated”
While Celeste’s future chefs have yet to be announced, the idea is that there will be a rotating port of culinary masters who will be free to choose what’s on the menu. Zephalto is keen that “chefs can exercise their creative license and ensure the ability to personalize the guest experience to deliver something refined and elevated” – so some chefs may decide that dining should take place before, rather than during, the trip.
Zephalto says it has also been working closely with the French space agency, CNES, on the project and counts the airline company Airbus as one of its partners. The company says that the balloon, powered by helium, must have the same certifications from the European Aviation Safety Agency as a commercial aircraft.
Zephalto says it has completed three piloted partial test flights, with another scheduled for later this year which is expected to undergo a full journey. The flights will be open to people of all ages and no prior training is required.
For now, Celeste is supposed to take off from France, but Zephalto hopes to go global soon.
Source: CNN Brasil
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