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Space Tourism: Keeping The Customer Satisfied

Published by Rob on Fri Jun 24, 2005 1:45 pm
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By Leonard David at Space.com
The welcome sign is up at Mojave, California—the proud home of SpaceShipOne, the piloted craft that achieved the first privately bankrolled suborbital flight.

Last year’s notable suite of runs to the edge of space by the rocket plane has raised expectations of a money-making, booming market for passenger-carrying spaceliners.

Taking the lead in the space travel business is Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic spaceliner operation. It is based on a much larger, multi-seat version of SpaceShipOne. Price per passenger seat: $200,000.

Suborbital spaceships not only can whisk tourists to the outskirts of the atmosphere, they can have other advantages too. As spaceports are planted in spots around the planet, there is already chatter about a new form of “point-to-point” express mail package delivery.

Still, the promise of big dollar markets for public space travel remains front and center. A study done by a think tank a few years ago underscored that fact. It reported that the overall space tourism market could generate revenues in excess of a billion dollars per year in about a decade-and-a-half from now. A big chunk of that cash is expected to come from suborbital space tourism.

Turn up the volume

“The biggest difficulty we’ve faced in the space business is the lack of volume,” said Peter Diamandis, Chairman and Founder of the X Prize Foundation, based in Santa Monica, California.

Diamandis said that volume brings increased learning, safety, robustness and decreased cost. “The potential for hundreds and thousands of flights driven by the personal spaceflight market will end up benefiting the rest of the space market, from military to satellite launch,” he told SPACE.com.
Read more of this article at space.com

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