Space tourism not so popular in Jacksonville

Richard Branson spoke at an event Tuesday night in Jacksonville, Florida, talking about his various ventures, including Virgin Galactic, which led to this exchange as reported in the Florida Times-Union:

Branson began building his business empire in the 1970s when he established Virgin Records, initially as a mail-order record outlet and later a record label. Virgin then expanded into a host of fields, including mobile phones, aviation, animation and, in one of Branson’s most high-profile endeavours, space travel, with Virgin Galactic planning on sending tourists into space two years from now – for a price.

“How many people out there are willing to spend $200,000 to fly into space?” [host Howard] Kelley asked, a question that elicited a lone clap from the back of the hall.

“Well, one,” Branson said with a chuckle, and then pointed out into the audience. “I’ll see you later.”

6 comments to Space tourism not so popular in Jacksonville

  • One suspects that the price is the problem, not the product.

  • Fred Simkin

    Not the the product, not the price…it’s Jacksonville.

  • I didn’t even know he was in town last night. And I read the paper this morning. :(

    Instead, I watched TOS on the screen last night.

  • Joe Blow

    Even if we take this data point seriously, it makes no real difference.

    The Florida Theatre seats 1,918. Rounded up that’s 2,000. Divide the U.S. population of 300 million by 2,000 and that’s 150,000 interested U.S. customers. 150,000 times $200K per ticket equals $30 billion in revenue. We can only guesstimate SS2’s costs, but given SS1’s reported cost of $20-25 million, that kind of market would certainly pay for SS2’s development many, many times over.

    Of course, probably only a fraction of the seats in the Florida Theatre were occupied for Branson’s talk, boosting these numbers considerably. And then there’s the international market. And Branson is probably willing to take a hit on this endeavour, anyway.

    The key is to interest those individuals with enough spare wealth to afford the ticket. The pitch has to appeal to that market. That, and hopefully the individual clapping wasn’t one of Branson’s personal staff.

  • I commend Joe Blow’s logic in the comment about the economics, but I think he missed a critical factor in the equation: expendable cash. You might find that many people willing to spend $200k for a trip to space. I know I would be, IF I had $200k sitting around. But they have to be will AND able to spend that much before you even begin to count them into any kind of economic feasibility model. I think that would drastically reduce the potential, though certainly not below the cost of development and operations.

  • […] The JAA plans to submit its spaceport license application to the FAA by June, according to the report, and hopes to get a positive response by the end of 2008. What isn’t stated is what spaceflight companies, if any, have expressed interest in flying out of Jacksonville (whose residents aren’t necessarily lining up to buy Virgin Galactic tickets). […]

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