I noted in an earlier post that one of the key issues with forecasting the demand for space tourism is the need to do an updated survey to see how preferences have changed since the original Futron/Zogby study in 2002. SPACE.com reports that such an effort is underway by Incredible Adventures, a Florida-based adventure tourism company, in cooperation with Derek Webber, a former colleague of mine who led the original Futron/Zogby study and is now an independent consultant.
The survey is available online and open for anyone to fill out. And that’s both the strength and weakness of this effort. The strength is that the survey instrument itself is very good: it asks pretty much all the key questions about interest in suborbital and orbital tourism activities, ranging from duration of the flights to cost, risk, and related topics. Moreover, since it’s an online survey, it’s available to anyone, regardless of location; the Futron/Zogby survey interviewed people only in the US.
However, the fact this is an open online survey is also its key disadvantage. The nature of any such survey (not just this one) is that there will be a selection bias in the results: the only data you will get will be from those people who know about the survey and decide they have the time to answer it. This presents the danger of skewing the results, which makes it more difficult to compare the results to previous surveys, one of the goals of this effort. (There’s also a greater risk of erroneous data—how do you know that people who say they make more than $250,000/year really do so?—although I don’t know how big of a concern this would be compared to more scientific surveys.) This makes it difficult to really do an apples-to-apples comparison of the results, but regardless it will be interesting to see the results.