Passenger Travel to Space a Reality by 2030?

May 1, 2019

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A decade from now, passenger travel on rockets from Earth to outer space and back will compete with long-distance airplane flights, new research from investment bank UBS finds. As CNBC reported, companies such as Virgin Galactic, SpaceX and Blue Origin could make space tourism a $3 billion market by 2030.

SpaceX is building a massive Starship rocket that will seat 100 passengers for high-speed, long-distance trips — New York to Shanghai in 39 minutes (versus 15 hours by airplane), for example. Every year, more than 150 million passengers take airplane flights lasting 10 hours or longer. Greater than 10 percent of survey respondents said they would choose a spacecraft over an aircraft for such trips. As the technology becomes proven and less expensive, space tourism “will become mainstream,” the report said.

In February, Virgin Galactic, owned by Sir Richard Branson, sent test passenger Beth Moses on a spaceflight — a first for a private U.S. company. Virgin Galactic will offer tickets on its spacecraft that holds up to six passengers for $250,000 each. Blue Origin, founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, is also nearing its first spaceflights with human passengers.

In September, Elon Musk’s SpaceX announced that Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa had made a deposit to fly around the moon on a 35-story rocket in 2023, with eight artists he will invite to join him for the flight. Ticket prices were not disclosed. — Greg Beaubien

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