You can leave and reenter the atmosphere, feel the kick of a rocket, and see the curvature of Earth. Step right up and lay down your 200 grand.
- By Craig Mellow
- Air & Space magazine, March 2006
(Page 4 of 4)
Potential patrons view space travel as less risky than skydiving or mountain climbing, according to the most frequently cited marketing study in the field, conducted by Virginia-based consultant Futron Corp. While rocketeers from every faction cite the 2002 Futron study as proving potential profitability, the group’s conclusions—based on surveying 450 Americans, each with a net worth in excess of $1 million—are in fact quite modest. Futron projected suborbital passenger volumes creeping up to 2,000 a year only six years after the first flights, which the group optimistically predicted would fly in 2006 and at a pre-Branson cost of $100,000. Those numbers might support two or three moderately profitable spacelines, but will hardly spin off the capital to ignite FAA booster Nield’s vision of “hundreds of manufacturers producing thousands of aircraft.”
And Futron did not even try to factor in the accident that everyone agrees is a certainty sooner or later, the neo-Challenger images of conflagration that will likely be the first serious attention most of the world pays to space tourism.
Peter Diamandis, a man not often left without a comment, says he knows exactly what he will say when the world press comes battering his door after the first fatalities. “I’ll tell them that space is the greatest frontier standing before humanity,” he intones. “That I’m thankful that thousands of people gave their lives to open the American West and other earlier frontiers. That if they don’t want to take risks to be a part of this, they had better stay out of it.”
But first, let’s have a launch.