Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Zephalto
Experience Michelin-Starred Dining At The "Edge Of Space" For $130,000
Zephalto, a French company founded by former air traffic controller Vincent Farret d’Astiès, aims to make it possible to enjoy a Michelin-star-level meal on the “edge of space” by next year. To achieve this, the company currently offers “pre-reservation tickets” for upcoming trips aboard a pressurized capsule named Celeste, attached to a stratospheric balloon as part of its space tourism venture.
The Celeste capsule will ascend to a height of 25 kilometers (approximately 15.5 miles), allowing guests to marvel at the Earth’s curvature. During the trip, travelers will have exceptional dining experiences and breathtaking views.
For a pre-reservation fee of $10,900, interested parties can secure a spot whenever the tickets go on sale. However, the total cost of the Celeste experience will be around $131,100.
According to CNN Travel, Zephalto has already sold out seats on the first flights from late 2024 to mid-2025. The company now offers pre-reservation slots for flights starting mid-2025 and beyond.
Celeste, the pressurized capsule, can carry six passengers and two pilots, reaching its maximum altitude in just 90 minutes at four meters per second speed. Passengers will have three hours to savor a gourmet multiple-course meal and sample some of the finest French wines while floating above the Earth.
Elevated Dining Experience Redefined
Zephalto plans to elevate its balloon-suspended restaurant to an altitude of 25 kilometers in the atmosphere. This innovative approach to space tourism follows in the footsteps of high-profile companies such as SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic, which aim to make space the next must-visit vacation spot.
While Zephalto, founded in 2016, is not alone in the race to transport passengers in a luxury hot air balloon, Floridian company Space Perspective is also taking reservations for its Spaceship Neptune. It is important to note that there is a significant difference between a trip to orbital space and suborbital space. The latter involves brief exposure to weightlessness and space views during a flight to the atmosphere’s edge, 60 miles above Earth.
The Celeste capsule, which will not reach suborbital space, will still soar significantly higher than a commercial airplane, offering unparalleled views of the Earth and stars without the loss of gravity and an associated feeling of weightlessness. Vincent Farret d’Astiès, the founder of Zephalto, compares the atmosphere inside Celeste to traveling on a plane, albeit with more spectacular views and luxurious vibes. The interior of the pressurized capsule is being designed by French designer Joseph Dirand, with designs set to exude “French savoir-faire,” according to Zephalto.
Zephalto has yet to announce the chefs who will prepare meals aboard Celeste, but the plan is to have a revolving team of culinary experts who will have complete freedom to select the menu. Zephalto is determined that “chefs can exercise their creative license and ensure the ability to personalize the guest experience to offer something that is refined and elevated,” so some may choose to serve the meal before the journey rather than during.
The company has collaborated closely with France’s space agency, CNES, on the project and counts Airbus, an aviation company, as one of its partners. The balloon, which will be powered by helium, must have the same certifications as a commercial aircraft, according to the European Aviation Safety Agency and Zephalto.
Zephalto claims to have completed three partially manned test flights, with a full journey scheduled for later this year. People of all ages will be permitted to fly, and no prior training will be required. Currently, Celeste is set to depart from France, but Zephalto hopes to expand globally in the near future.