Wealthy Americans would flood into the final frontier, paying as much as $25 million for passage, if only more commercial passenger rockets were available
, according to a new space tourism study.
The market for space travel is bullish enough to create a $1 billion annual industry by 2021
, concluded the Futron Corp., a Bethesda, Md., based aerospace consulting firm.
"This is a very very promising market, if you can overcome the technical hurdles, the regulatory hurdles and some other hurdles," said Futron director Phil McAlister.
The results of the recently completed study were presented Thursday at the World Space Congress, a gathering in Houston of space policy experts, aerospace engineers and scientists which ends Saturday.The Russians are the only ones booking space tourists. But they can accommodate only two high rollers a year
aboard the close-quartered, three-person Soyuz capsules they send to the international space station. The Soyuz trips are made every six months.
Only two tourists, California investor Dennis Tito and South African internet entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth, have made the trip so far, paying a reported $20 million each.Based on a national survey, Futron found many more would like to fly
, intrigued primarily by the adventure and the opportunities to look back at the Earth and experience the sensation of weightlessness.
McAlister said the study revealed:
· More than 15,000 people annually would pay between $25,000 and $250,000 for a 15-minute trip to the fringes of space and back by 2021.
· Sixty people annually would pay from $1 million to $25 million for a two-week journey to some kind of space station.
In order to assess the interest among potential passengers who could actually afford a trip, Futron restricted its inquiries to people who earn at least $250,000 annually or have a net worth of at least $1 million.
Futron hopes to sell the survey of space travel demand to prospective investors in a commercial space transportation system. The asking price for the study is $2,750, or $1,450 for an abridged version.
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