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Published:July 2003
  • Derek Webber
Origin:in Proceedings of the AIAA/ICAS International Air and Space Symposium, Dayton Ohio.
Abstract:This paper maps out the early history and likely future of public space travel, both during the first twenty formative years of the industry (a period that has been well-researched as part of the ASCENT Study funded by NASA), and thereafter onward towards the next century milepost at 2103.

The general framework of a public space travel business is discussed, including technical, terrestrial infrastructure, marketing/packaging, regulatory and insurance issues, etc., and this framework explicitly addresses the two distinct kinds of opportunity that are being developed as the initial offerings of space tourism - namely sub-orbital and orbital flights. There is a discussion of possible and proposed architectures.

Data is provided from the Futron/Zogby Survey into Public Space Travel, a very robust and comprehensive fund of market data obtained by interviewing high net worth individuals. The data addresses public interest in both sub-orbital and orbital flight opportunities, and forecasts are provided that derive likely numbers of travelers at various price levels during the next twenty years, and hence form an essential backdrop to any business plan for the sector.

Finally, the paper looks forward a further 80 years towards 2103, and describes a possible series of further developments in public space travel that will be likely to take place in that timeframe. Many of them have already been studied qualitatively as possible emerging markets in the ASCENT Study conducted by Futron Corporation for NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. These potential developments include, inter aliai, space hotels, geo-stationary and/or Lagrangian Point space outposts, and even tourist trips into Lunar orbit.

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