Orbital space tourism survey

SpaceWorks Engineering, Inc. (SEI) has posted an online survey regarding demand for orbital space tourism. Normally I am skeptical of any such online surveys, because the audience is self-selected: rather than a random sampling that takes into account various demographic factors of the audience (as is the case with traditional polling) online surveys can be skewed by the audience that is attracted—or compelled—to take them.

This survey, though, is a little different. Rather than ask people about their own willingness to fly in space, respondents are instead asked to try and gauge the size of the market for several types of orbital tourism activities: orbital flights with and without hotels, as well as circumlunar flights. The size of the potential market at several price points is requested, as well as the confidence the respondent has in his estimates.

I am curious to see how SEI plans to use these data. If it’s an effort to measure the size of the orbital tourism market, I’m skeptical about how useful it might be: few details are given (or available) about the various attributes of such flights, and price points may vary wildly from what’s requested in the survey. In any event, I suspect most people can only offer a gut feel for the size of the market at this time. However, if the survey is designed to gauge the perceived size of the market, then this might be more useful. How big, in numbers of passengers per year, do people believe orbital tourism will be?

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