Space tourism company World View has unveiled designs by PriestmanGoode for a capsule-shaped spacecraft that will fly passengers to the edge of the Earth's atmosphere under a giant balloon in two years' time.
World View is already taking bookings and deposit payments for its commercial spaceflights, which are scheduled to begin in 2024.
The spaceflight capsules are designed to be lifted by a zero-pressure stratospheric balloon, rising 30,000 metres above the ground so that passengers can see the Earth's curvature, the thin blue line of the atmosphere and the darkness of outer space.
Seating for eight passengers and two crew members is contained within the hexagon-shaped pods in a climate-controlled, pressurised environment.
Flights are scheduled to lift off from "spaceports" at a series of major landmarks including the Great Barrier Reef, the Giza Pyramids and the Great Wall of China, launching before dawn and lasting six to 12 hours.
"Participants will fully experience and immerse themselves in the beauty, fragility, history and importance of the areas surrounding each location and of the Earth itself," said World View.
Tickets will cost $50,000 per seat, while World View is also marketing its trips to businesses for corporate bonding exercises, product launches and executive retreats. Its first manned test flights are due to begin in 2023.
"Unveiling our space capsule prototype is a pivotal moment for the company as we continue to prepare for our first launch from the Grand Canyon in just two short years," said Ryan Hartman, president and CEO of World View.
World View becomes a direct competitor of space tourism company Space Perspective, which unveiled a similar concept in 2020 and is led by two of World View's original founders.
The designs are very similar and were both produced by PriestmanGoode, though World View's balloon uses helium as a lift gas while Space Perspective uses hydrogen.
A full-scale model of the World View spaceflight capsule prototype, named The Explorer Capsule, was recently debuted at the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas.
The capsule is faceted hexagon-shaped with a pearlescent white finish intended to aid thermal management and highlight the geometric detailing.
Two-metre-high elliptical windows will provide a view of Earth, with a sky window giving passengers sight of the giant balloon lifting them to the edge of space as well as constellations of stars.
Mood wash lighting will change throughout the flight for "optimal viewing" out of the windows, World View said, with a telescope also onboard.
The interior of the capsule is designed to maximise available space so that passengers can move about, with the turbulence of an aeroplane flight replaced by gentle swaying.
A soft colour palette, materials and finishes are intended to create a calm atmosphere, while functional elements such as the toilet and galley entrances have been concealed to keep the focus on the views outside.
Seating will be similar in level of luxury to business class on a standard commercial flight and will be accompanied by a cocktail table, a screen providing educational materials and activities, a central console, personal storage and a beverage holder.
London-based transportation and aviation design studio PriestmanGoode is working on the project with unmanned aircraft specialist DZYNE Technologies.
"We don't want it to feel like you're getting into something more like an astronaut would get into," Daniel MacInnes, design director at PriestmanGoode who is leading the project for the studio, told Dezeen.
"We were asked to look at the customer experience – how do you make this really accessible for multiple passengers, and how do you make it kind of feel like it's a product that people want to kind of experience?"
"We're taking the knowledge that we've got from commercial aviation and using it for this as a starting point... what we're really trying to do is just make a timeless interior, something which works very well for any passengers coming on board," he added.
The onboard crew will include one pilot and one concierge, who will act as guides and be trained in flight operations, hospitality and medical support.
Flyers will be offered a gourmet meal as well as drinks and will be able to stream and use their mobile phones from the capsule.
World View said it is taking "great care" to source materials from sustainable vendors where possible and is exploring options for reuse and recycling.
"We're starting to look at sustainable materials that can be used inside the capsule that sit with the branding of understanding the Earth and how it can be better and having a better impact on it," MacInnes said.
PriestmanGoode is still finalising the design and working with its engineering team to make the concept unveiled in Austin a reality.
World View, which describes itself as "the leading stratospheric exploration company on a mission to inspire the global community to rediscover Earth", announced a move into the increasingly competitive space tourism industry in October.
Although the company unveiled a similar concept in 2013 it has focused on space exploration in the years since. PriestmanGoode worked with World View on its initial space capsule in 2012 and was asked a year ago to refine the concept.
Other ventures aimed at developing sapce tourism include the Gateway Foundation, which intends to open the first hotel in space in 2027 and Virgin Galactic, which recently revealed the interior cabin of its SpaceshipTwo craft.
The images are courtesy of World View Enterprises.