A more pessimistic take on space tourism and the economy

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.”

7 comments to A more pessimistic take on space tourism and the economy

  • Some of these questions will be answered by my up coming feature, could be on the web next week ;-)

  • Peter

    Putting it off would be a bad idea (as anyone who put off college after high school can attest to, including me).

    No need to put it off anyways… VG has the first 100 tickets paid in full, second 100 deposits collected… and the list keeps growing. It’ll take ‘em a few years to deal with the current backlog so let them lower the price when demand actually drops.

    Just do it! I wanna go!

  • […] Foust has a report over at Personal Spaceflight on skeptical remarks made by Maury Mechanick, an experienced satellite industry attorney who says he has been studying […]

  • Alan Stern

    If you’ve waited since you were a kid, then start putting away $1,000 a month; in ten years, with interest, your ticket will be paid for. It’s not *so* hard…

  • Chance

    There were people complaining about private spaceflight being an unseemly display of wealth even before the finacial crisis. Now, after the AIG bonus kerflufle, the auto exec private jet kerfluffle, a deep reccession, and who knows what next, I wonder if the public will become more hostile towards the idea of this industry. If VG and Branson are smart, they will put any ticket holders who were ececutives in failed companies near the very back of the line…

  • Tim Reed

    I have always found it difficult to understand why so many would want to spend $200K just to take a 30 minute roller coaster ride where they will have very little weightless experience. For a lot less money, one can go to Vegas, get on the “vomit comet” and experience just as much weightless time. If it is the view you want, sign up for Interorbital Systems (Interorbital.com) week in space. Promotional tickets are only $250K and you will be wrightless for a week.

  • Chance

    I thought the going rate for an orbital mission was in the $22-25 million range.

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>