A 2002 study by the management consultancy Futron, of Bethesda, Maryland, boldly predicts that no less than 12,000 people a year will be taking sub-orbital tourist flights by 2020.
Although SpaceShipOne’s flight came well after the study was completed, it does not change any of its basic assumptions, Futron analyst Janice Starzyk says. “We made some pretty good assumptions, so we are sticking to these numbers.”
Futron polled only wealthy Americans who were itching to experience weightlessness and see the curvature of Earth from space. It assumed that competition would drive down ticket prices from an initial $100,000 to $50,000 by 2021.
Already, scores of would-be space tourists have put down substantial deposits on those first flights. The money is going to companies like Rutan’s Scaled Composites that are competing for the $10 million Ansari X prize, which will be awarded to the first viable, reusable sub-orbital spacecraft.
One of those hoping for a ride on an early commercial flight is the London-based Danish investment banker Per Wimmer, to whom space is a logical extension of his interest in adventure travel.