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Sub-orbital tourism - here and now or distant prospect?

Posted by: Dr_Keith_H - Sun Jun 13, 2004 2:36 pm
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Sub-orbital tourism - here and now or distant prospect? 

Will there really ever be a sub-orbital tourist market?
No 13%  13%  [ 3 ]
Yes 88%  88%  [ 21 ]
Total votes : 24

Sub-orbital tourism - here and now or distant prospect? 
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Post Sub-orbital tourism - here and now or distant prospect?   Posted on: Sun Jun 13, 2004 2:36 pm
Utopia, the place where they held an x-prize and sub-orbital tourism, made cheap and safe by spectacular technological advances, followed hard on its heels.

Mytopia, the place where they held an x-prize and sub-orbital tourism was suddenly recognized as the most high-altitude marketing hype in history.

I think sub-orbital hops have as much chance at becoming a tourist draw as round-the-world-ballooning. i.e. not very much chance at all.

What is your opinion?

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Post    Posted on: Sun Jun 13, 2004 2:53 pm
Quote:
="Dr_Keith_H"]I think sub-orbital hops have as much chance at becoming a tourist draw as round-the-world-ballooning. i.e. not very much chance at all.


I think the recent Washington Post article answers this best:
"The question is: If you've been to 100 kilometers [62 miles], seen the curvature of the Earth, seen the darkness of space and experienced weightlessness, could you say you'd been in space? Absolutely. And it would be the thrill of a lifetime." [said MIT's Ed Crawley].

Also, the Futron Corporation recently did an extensive study on this topic, concluding "Suborbital space travel is a promising market - Futron's forecast for suborbital space travel projects that by 2021, over 15,000 passengers could be flying annually, representing revenues in excess of US$700 million."


Last edited by The Legionnaire on Mon Jun 14, 2004 9:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post    Posted on: Sun Jun 13, 2004 3:02 pm
your link is broken The Legionnare (it's fixed now)


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Post    Posted on: Sun Jun 13, 2004 3:03 pm
The Legionnaire wrote:
I think the recent Washington Post article answers this best:
"The question is: If you've been to 100 kilometers [62 miles], seen the curvature of the Earth, seen the darkness of space and experienced weightlessness, could you say you'd been in space? Absolutely. And it would be the thrill of a lifetime." [said MIT's Ed Crawley].

That is true, absolutely and undeniably true ... it would be the thrill of a life-time. But it answers very little. Here's the kicker, it wont be an affordable thrill, which is why I think sub-orbital hops wont go beyond the realm of super-wealthy adventure-seekers ... and there aint enough of those boys and girls around to warrant the installation of a ticket counter.

The Legionnaire wrote:
Also, the Futron Corporation recently did an extensive study on this topic, concluding "Suborbital space travel is a promising market - Futron's forecast for suborbital space travel projects that by 2021, over 15,000 passengers could be flying annually, representing revenues in excess of US$700 million."

Not enough data available for any of this to be considered as being even remotely accurate. From whence does Futron make it's extrapolations. Got a link for this one? I would be interested to read it.

Tell me the price of a ticket in 2021 and give me a credible argument that you calculated this and didn't just pull it out of the sub-orbital sky.

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Post Re: Sub-orbital tourism - here and now or distant prospect?   Posted on: Sun Jun 13, 2004 3:45 pm
Dr_Keith_H wrote:
Mytopia, the place where they held an x-prize and sub-orbital tourism was suddenly recognized as the most high-altitude marketing hype in history.


Sub orbital tourism has a very long way to go and many, many billions of dollars to spend before it can ever hope to come close to the hype that the Shuttle was going to fly 50 times a year and reduce launch costs. It may not have been the typical marketing seen in the business world but when NASA submitted the cost estimates to justify the shuttle program based on things such as 50 flights a year to Congress that was certainly some talented marketing.


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Post Re: Sub-orbital tourism - here and now or distant prospect?   Posted on: Sun Jun 13, 2004 4:18 pm
TJ wrote:
Dr_Keith_H wrote:
Mytopia, the place where they held an x-prize and sub-orbital tourism was suddenly recognized as the most high-altitude marketing hype in history.


Sub orbital tourism has a very long way to go and many, many billions of dollars to spend before it can ever hope to come close to the hype that the Shuttle was going to fly 50 times a year and reduce launch costs. It may not have been the typical marketing seen in the business world but when NASA submitted the cost estimates to justify the shuttle program based on things such as 50 flights a year to Congress that was certainly some talented marketing.

Good point TJ, I guess that marketing strategy does take the cake ...

I think space (real space, outer space, wooohooo I'm taking a day trip to the moon-type space) tourism will be a reality, even if it's a very distant reality. This leads me to believe that sub-orbital tourism, as an idea, is so much space dust. It relies on bringing prices waaaaay down a long time before technologies advance to the point where orbital trips are being seriously worked on. So it's a race against time and I can't see it being won soon enough for anyone to make any cash out of it.

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Post    Posted on: Sun Jun 13, 2004 4:36 pm
I hate to say it myself but I think it's going to be some time before space tourism gets to my income bracket, $10,000 would be about my limit but unfortunately I think for 10K I'd be more tempted to spend a week or two in Tahiti or Hawaii before going on a sub-orbital flight. Get me on the moon for a week for under 50K and I'd be looking to refinance the house (provided I own a house by then).

I don't see space tourism becoming something that tens of thousands sign up for until something like the costs claimed by the space elevator supporters or the costs envisioned by JP Aerospace and their 3 stage balloon system become a reality.

Personally I'd rather skip the whole tourism bit and get into colonization. I'd like to 'homestead' a couple of nice sized rocks out in one of the Jovian trojan points myself. That ought to be a relatively quiet neighborhood for some time. Unless Dr. Cynthia Kenyon's research becomes effective and affordable for people that homestead of mine may be out of reach for me.

On the other hand 'Personal Luxury Sub-Orbital-Ship' may become a lucrative market. I'm sure that people like John Travolta would love to own their own. Although I don't see him going for the 2-stage White Knight/SS1 since that requires two pilots.


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Post    Posted on: Sun Jun 13, 2004 5:52 pm
there will be a suborbital tourism market, but it will never truly be "real". suborbital tourism will probably be obsolete 30 years from now. suborbital spaceflight will not, but space based tourism will by then probably be almost exclusively orbital.

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Post Re: Sub-orbital tourism - here and now or distant prospect?   Posted on: Mon Jun 14, 2004 9:58 pm
Dr_Keith_H wrote:
This leads me to believe that sub-orbital tourism, as an idea, is so much space dust. It relies on bringing prices waaaaay down a long time before technologies advance to the point where orbital trips are being seriously worked on. So it's a race against time and I can't see it being won soon enough for anyone to make any cash out of it.



In the WashPost article I referred to earlier, Rutan provides a cost estimate:
"Rutan, who gained widespread renown in 1986 when his Voyager became the first aircraft to circumnavigate the globe without refueling, estimates that commercial suborbital flights could cost $30,000 to $50,000 "initially," and as little as $7,000 to $12,000 in a "second generation." "
This isn't just a number he pulled out of a hat. Rutan is flying real hardware, and will put a real man into space next Monday. So I think that $50,000 is a reasonable high-end estimate for a space tourism ticket.

Rich people spend much more than that on trips to Mt. Everest...


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Post Re: Sub-orbital tourism - here and now or distant prospect?   Posted on: Tue Jun 15, 2004 7:20 am
The Legionnaire wrote:
In the WashPost article I referred to earlier, Rutan provides a cost estimate:
"Rutan, who gained widespread renown in 1986 when his Voyager became the first aircraft to circumnavigate the globe without refueling, estimates that commercial suborbital flights could cost $30,000 to $50,000 "initially," and as little as $7,000 to $12,000 in a "second generation." "
This isn't just a number he pulled out of a hat. Rutan is flying real hardware, and will put a real man into space next Monday. So I think that $50,000 is a reasonable high-end estimate for a space tourism ticket.

These figures coming from Rutan are definitely more believable than anything I could come up with. Still we have to keep in mind that Rutan doesn't own, manage or run a business in which he takes paying tourists places. So we have to assume that he is getting his numbers from someone with experience in the tourism sector.

The Legionnaire wrote:
Rich people spend much more than that on trips to Mt. Everest...

Do you mean trips to Everest or trips up to the top of Everest. I assume you mean trips to the peak, as it isn't so expensive to visit basecamp. If you consider that a tourism market then I guess that is the sort of tourism market applicable to sub-orbital hops, but even compared to the numbers who climb everest ... I think it's going to be a very low volume market at best. Still, it is indeed a market.

So let me ask another question, are there going to be enough people willing to part with the cash required for the initial trips to pay for the maintenance of infrastructure required to keep things going long enough for prices to come down? It sounds very unlikely.

Incidentally, how much does a single launch cost Burt now? Is that on his FAQ? I'll go and have a look and come back to post what I find.

(later)

... well I found nothing, but (as Starchaser fans know) I'm not the best at digging up information about the various teams ... perhaps someone else has the necessary information at their fingertips.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Jun 15, 2004 10:46 am
The trouble with "merely" sub-orbital is that you have to include the huge cost of getting to the launch site to go essentially nowhere for 20-40 minutes, then get home again. Sub-orbital flights will only have a tourist market when they go from A to B. In short, people paid a premium for the thrill of flying Concorde, but would they pay to fly from LHR to the North Sea, go supersonic and straight back to Heathrow? I doubt it. As far as Rutans figures go, how many people were willing to pay to fly round the world non-stop on Voyager?

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Post    Posted on: Tue Jun 15, 2004 11:49 am
from sigurds blog: "Up to 19% of those interviewed indicated that they would be likely to take part in such an experience when it becomes available to the public" and that was among people with plenty of cash ready


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Post    Posted on: Tue Jun 15, 2004 11:55 am
luke.r wrote:
... people paid a premium for the thrill of flying Concorde, but would they pay to fly from LHR to the North Sea, go supersonic and straight back to Heathrow? I doubt it ...

Did Concorde make any money for the people who operated it? I have heard that it did not.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Jun 15, 2004 11:57 am
Dr_Keith_H wrote:
luke.r wrote:
... people paid a premium for the thrill of flying Concorde, but would they pay to fly from LHR to the North Sea, go supersonic and straight back to Heathrow? I doubt it ...

Did Concorde make any money for the people who operated it? I have heard that it did not.


Blog link: http://x-prize.blogspot.com/2004/06/fut ... -poll.html

Was concorde developed by private companies with private money or government funding ? I think it was government funding... so the developers didn't really had to look at the "very low costs optimizations.."
I think if Concorde was created by Rutan.. or other teams.. it could be "better" AND "cheaper".

And I would say.. let's try... it can fail.. but if you never try.. you can't win.. so I'll wait and see... and in the mean time I stay a "believer" for sub space flights :)

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Post    Posted on: Tue Jun 15, 2004 12:42 pm

Thanks for the link, it makes very interesting reading.
Sigurd wrote:
Was concorde developed by private companies with private money or government funding ? I think it was government funding... so the developers didn't really had to look at the "very low costs optimizations.."
I think if Concorde was created by Rutan.. or other teams.. it could be "better" AND "cheaper".

But Rutan and the others have the benefit of working almost 40 years in the future (Concorde first flew in 1969 right?).
Sigurd wrote:
And I would say.. let's try... it can fail.. but if you never try.. you can't win.. so I'll wait and see... and in the mean time I stay a "believer" for sub space flights :)

Good. If everyone said it couldn't be done there mightn't be an x-prize at all.

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