Jane Poynter wants to take you to space – and she doesn’t like the Billionaire Boys’ Rocket Club

“I’ll never forget, I must have written an essay when I was 16,” said Jane Poynter, CEO and co-founder of Space Perspective. Contractor on the occasion of International Women’s Day. “And the subject of the essay – and it was a national essay, it wasn’t just given by my teachers – was Would you like to be a nurse, teacher, veterinarian or wife? I have no problem with any of these four particular career choices. However, it was very limited.


perspective from space

Luckily for the scientific community, Poynter didn’t let the narrow expectations of what a woman should be stop her from pursuing her talents and passions. As one of space exploration’s first and few female pioneers, Poynter’s career has been filled with groundbreaking discoveries and awe-inspiring milestones – from the research that came out of the two years and 20 minutes she spent spent living in Biosphere 2 in the early 90s, thanks to his latest venture: the launch of Space Perspective, a venture that aims to bring the life-changing experience of space travel to more people than ever before.

Inspirational women prove that anything is possible

Growing up, Poynter had to deal with parochial beliefs like those highlighted in the national editorial prompt, but she was also blessed to be surrounded by inspiring women who showed her she could do no anything if she did. “What was extremely fortunate for me was that I saw women do extraordinary things,” says Poynter. “I grew up in a place where the first woman to cross the Atlantic alone lived almost next door – then she sailed around the world. So it opened my eyes to the fact that there are so many The possibilities are endless if you grab a bull by the horns and go after it.

That’s exactly what Poynter did when she tackled the ambitious Biosphere 2 research project at a time when most people lacked a basic understanding of what a biosphere even was. Those two years and 20 minutes spent inside the completely enclosed ecosystem gave Poynter a whole new understanding of what it means to exist in our planetary biosphere, known as biosphere 1. “What was so surprising was to be completely integrated into my biosphere,” says Poynter. “I knew from moment to moment that the plants around me were giving me my oxygen to breathe, that the CO2 I was exhaling was growing the food we were eating – and we were eating so many sweet potatoes that we were turning orange. So we were visibly becoming part of the sweet potato, I could see the edges of my world.

Poynter compares his experience in Biosphere 2 to that of astronauts viewing Earth from space, saying, “It’s deeply moving. [Astronauts] see the Earth from the outside by looking inside; we saw it from the inside looking outside. It’s a new perspective that runs deep and lives with you for the rest of your life.

Related: Why We Need More Women in STEM and How AI Could Help Us Get There

Entrepreneurial journeys and advice from Elon Musk

While in Biosphere 2, Poynter also took his first leap into entrepreneurship by co-founding Paragon Space Development Corporation, a space technology company. “Paragon is all about survival technologies and environmental control, so it’s oxygen, CO2, and whatever else allows us to thrive in an enclosed environment like this,” Poynter says. “And that was really the first step on this long road to space that we are now doing with Space Perspective.”

It was through his work with Paragon that Poynter came across one of the most well-known figures in space tourism: SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk. “The very first thing we did with [Musk] built a small greenhouse to send plants to Mars,” says Poynter. “He went to Russia to get the rocket to fly our greenhouse to Mars, and on the way back he decided he was going to launch SpaceX, which was very exciting. So our team helped him to writing some of its very first commercial proposal, did all sorts of rocket architecture and proposal writing with NASA, for them to be part of this first cohort of commercial spaceflight companies.

This initial group of spaceflight companies became a de facto rocket club for billionaire boys, including Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. But Poynter’s Space Perspective takes a different view of space exploration, one that strives to make the transformational experience of viewing Earth from above more accessible, greener and cleaner than ever before. The zero-emission, carbon-neutral Neptune spacecraft is powered by a football-stadium-sized SpaceBalloon™, making for a spectacular and enjoyable journey.

“We really wanted to have a smooth, calm flight so that when you’re up there you can really absorb it,” says Poynter. “And that’s what the SpaceBalloon does. It goes into space at 12 miles an hour, and it’s this smooth two-hour flight, you’re two hours up looking at Earth and two hours back. By the way, you are going to see the sunrise, so be prepared to get up early. But it will be the craziest sunrise. I’ve seen videos of this, and it’s truly mind-blowing.

Image Credit: Space Perspective

Related: What space travel can teach us about working and living on Earth

How Space Travel Changes Our Perspectives and Behaviors

With Space Perspective, Poynter hopes to give as many people as possible the opportunity to travel in space, because she believes it’s an experience that will fundamentally change the way we understand and care for our planet. “It’s that kind of Carl Sagan moment of realizing that everything we are, all of human history, all of human society, has been lived on this singular planet,” she says. “It is a deeply profound and moving experience; at the same time, you suddenly realize that it is not that big.

“Scientists are beginning to examine how going to space affects people,” Poynter continues, “and have found a statistically significant increase in astronauts’ involvement in social and environmental causes when they return from space compared to when they leave. So it’s not just a change in perspective: it actually changes the way you are in the world, which is fascinating and has profound ramifications for us here on planet Earth.

Space Perspective plans to make its first flight from Space Coast Spaceport, adjacent to Kennedy Space Center in Florida, as soon as 2024, following a crewed test flight in 2023. The Neptune spacecraft has a capacity of eight passengers, with tickets at $125,000 each. “I expect to get up somewhere before the time when we send our first customers, because after all, if I have to send other people into space, I better go myself,” Poynter says. . “And frankly, I can’t wait.”

Image Credit: Space Perspective

The Exciting Future of Aerospace: Inclusiveness Fuels Innovation

Although a lot has changed in Poynter’s 30 years in the male-dominated aerospace industry, there is still room for improvement. “When I got into aerospace, I was usually the only woman in the room,” she says. “Thankfully that has changed – still not 50/50, but there are a lot more women involved. And what also excites me is that we are starting to see diversity of all kinds, and it is extremely important for me that we get all kinds of diversity of thought, culture and background, because drive, creativity and innovation come from having a diversity of people involved in a singular company and mission, especially as what we do at Space Perspective.

For any girl or woman who is intimidated by the thought of pursuing a career in STEM, Poynter offers some hard-earned words of wisdom. “If you really want to get into STEM and all STEM-related activities and professions, do it,” she says. “It doesn’t matter if you feel intimidated, you have to do it anyway. We are talking about the fact that as an entrepreneur you have to have perseverance, you have to have courage. Both of these things are true, but they are muscles. In fact, you have to exercise them. They don’t magically happen – for most people. Some people are born with tremendous perseverance and courage; for most of us, we have to work at it. It is a muscle that needs to be exercised.

Related: The first black woman to travel in space shares how she finds solutions to the world’s biggest problems

“I never focused on being a female entrepreneur,” adds Poynter. “I have been focused on being the best entrepreneur to execute the greatest vision possible to have the greatest impact for humanity and our global biosphere. This is how I have always approached everything. I did. And it held up really well.

Poynter also benefited from banishing the word “impossible” from his vocabulary and keeping a favorite Theodore Roosevelt phrase in mind. “’Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.’ I love it because it’s so inspiring,” Poynter says. “It’s thinking big, it’s doing big, it’s reaching for the stars, but really stay grounded in your own reality. And your own reality is that you can be so much more than you ever imagined.

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