Former Chouest OSV to become marine spaceportWritten by Nick Blenkey
ABS is supporting the reactivation and modification of an offshore support vessel (OSV) to function as the world’s first marine spaceport for human space flights. The flights will be operated by Space Perspective, which is based at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Space Perspective offers a six-hour journey to space in a pressurized capsule, called Spaceship Neptune, which is lifted into space suspended by a giant balloon.
Space Perspective will launch its flights both from land at Kennedy Space Center and also from sea, using the former OSV, now called MS Voyager. Information from the Equasis data base shows that the vessel (IMO no 9132296) is the former Chouest vessel C Challenger, built in 2003.
The ship will transport passengers to an approved offshore location where the giant balloon will fill with hydrogen and lift Spaceship Neptune and its passengers 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.
Modifications to the near 300-foot-long OSV to outfit it as a marine spaceport are already underway and will include the addition of the balloon launch system and a space capsule A-frame, which will house Spaceship Neptune using a specially designed cradle on the aft deck. The vessel is also reportedly being retrofitted to use biofuel.
Space Perspective’s marine operations will be supported by Guice Offshore and the company will use RHIBs from Fluid Watercraft to retrieve guests and the Spaceship Neptune capsule. The boats will be stored and launched from MS Voyager.
“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 founder and co-CEO of Space Perspective Taber MacCallum. “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’s expertise to certify the world’s first marine spaceport in MS Voyager is making this all a reality.”
“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.