Space tourism companies (with the exception of Astrium, as previously noted) have remained optimistic about their prospects despite the current economic crisis. Virgin Galactic’s Will Whitehorn said last month that they continued to sign up customers and had nearly 300 at the time, with only a few asking for their deposits back. XCOR had also reported strong interest in ticket sales for its Lynx flights through RocketShip Tours.
However, there is still the specter of the financial crisis looming over anything even remotely considered a luxury or otherwise not essential. A more pessimistic viewpoint came during the Satellite Finance Forum on Tuesday in Washington DC, part of the Satellite 2009 conference. Maury Mechanick, a lawyer with extensive experience in the satellite industry, flagged tourism as an area of concern during a presentation at the conference. Mechanick, who called himself “a frustrated astronaut from about the age of 9″, said he found space tourism very interesting, and had been studying it for the last couple of years. However, “you take a look at the Virgin Galactic business plan, which is for a mere $200,000 you too can get a half an hour suborbital ride into space,” he said, makes you wonder just how many people out there can afford such a trip today. “I’ve really got to scratch my head and raise some questions.”
This leads him to suggest the opening of the suborbital space tourism market might be put off for some time. “2009 and 2010 may not be the time when this happens,” he said. “It may be put off for a few years and maybe it will never happen if the price points stay at this level.”