Bolden’s a “big fan” of space tourism

Metro, the free British daily, had a brief interview with former astronaut Charles Bolden last week. Among the questions asked of Bolden was whether he was “for or against” space tourism. His response:

I’m a big fan. Every time we can send a human into Earth’s orbit, that’s one more person that becomes aware of the value and joy of doing that, and knows what that vantage point affords us. The more of it the better.

He did caution, however, that potential tourists need significant amounts of training before they fly:

We need to be careful we don’t let people go about it in a cavalier manner. We need to put as much training into the space tourists as any government-sponsored space exploration.

“As much training” as government missions could be a significant obstacle down the road for tourism, given that those flying on Soyuz flights have to spend six months in Russia. The size of the market for those who want to fly into orbit and have up to $20 million available is small enough as it is; it gets smaller when you tack on the six months’ worth of training.

2 comments to Bolden’s a “big fan” of space tourism

  • Jeff,
    Yeah, I was looking over t/Space’s review (in their CE&R report to NASA from last year) of Futron’s Space Tourism study the other day. The impact of streamlining training down to 1 month, and bringing it to the US was quite significant. They estimated something like a 86% increase in demand even at the current prices.

    Just out of curiousity, what do you think the demand is likely to be at the proposed Bigelow rate of $8-10M per seat? Especially if training was 1 month or less, and launch was from the US?

    And do you have any opinion about what kind of price point translunar travel (ie lunar flybys) would likely need to reach before it started seeing significant interest? I’ve got any idea I’m working on for relatively near-term translunar tourism at a much lower price-point than the CSI or Space Adventures offerings, but was trying to figure out if there’d likely be enough demand to make further investigation worthwhile.

    Oh, and Merry Christmas! :-)



  • Jeff Foust


    There is some orbital pricing data in the Futron market study, including a chart that shows that 16% of respondents would be willing to pay $10M for a flight, versus 7% for $20M. The demand and revenue curves also factor in decreasing ticket prices through the forecast period. However, the Zogby survey data used in the study are now nearly five years old, and increased awareness of space tourism (both suborbital and orbital) likely have changed those figures.

    As for circumlunar flights, there’s so little market data (essentially zero) right now that any demand estimate would be little more than speculation. Such flights weren’t on the radar in the original Zogby survey, but it would be useful to add for any followup survey.

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