Mercedes-Maybach already makes some out-of-this-world vehicles. But now, together with a startup called Space Perspective, the high-end luxury automaker is actually heading off-planet (sort of).
The partnership starts on the ground. The Maybach EQS SUV will act as the official transport vehicle for the Space Perspective programme when it kicks off, whisking six passengers per flight to their pressurised capsule. Attached to each capsule is a massive SpaceBalloon powered by hydrogen that lifts passengers at 14 miles per hour to 100,000 feet or 19 miles / 30 kilometres (our resident NASA nerds remind us that space starts at 62 miles high, so 100,000 feet isn’t exactly the great unknown).
Each journey takes about six hours; two hours to get there, two hours floating in space, and two hours on the return. No rocket fuel necessary. And much like the electric Mercedes-Maybach EQS, the Space Perspective trip is carbon-neutral and "completely silent," notes Founder and Co-CEO Jane Poynter.
"We are taking all of us to space but in a very different way than you would most likely have ever imagined," says Poynter. "This has no rockets involved, there’s no high Gs, there’s no space suits – none of that. Instead, we’re using a balloon that gently takes people to space to have that quintessential astronaut experience."
The inside of the Space Perspective capsule looks like a luxury SUV with six lounge-like chairs facing massive windows – the biggest of any spacecraft, Poynter notes – with a central bar, some greenery, and yes, even a bathroom. The interior (pictured here) was designed by Space Perspective, but that should change through this partnership.
In the future, Maybach plans to put its own stamp on the interior of each capsule. "Eventually that effort will culminate into Maybach being involved in the interior design of the capsule," notes Daniel Lescow, Head of Mercedes-Maybach in the US.
The first Space Perspective mission is set to launch later in 2024, with tests currently ongoing. And the price per seat is a cool $125,000 (approx. £100,000), which means flights will be limited exclusively to people who can likely afford to buy a Maybach EQS.
"We are about to get back into test flights with on-crew test flights first and then getting into crew test flights mid-next year… and then around the end of the year, we’ll be in commercial operations," says Poynter. "So for us, it is an incredibly exciting time to bring this to market. We already have 1,650 plus people who have bought tickets to go to space, which is very exciting for us."