The 2020s are shaping up to be another golden age for space. NASA is planning its permanent return to the Moon, and an economic analysis suggests that the private space industry may double its worth by 2030. The report by UBS not only traces how space companies are likely to expand over the next several years but also how suborbital flights may change how many people choose long-duration flights.
The larger space industry currently provides technology, instrumentation, and materials to space agencies. Some companies build satellites, while others – such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin – have rockets. Together, they are currently worth $340 billion. That number is expected to reach $926 billion by 2040, more than double.
But there’s another revolution brewing and it is led by Virgin Galactic as well as Bezos' and Musk’s companies. It's predicted that space tourists and suborbital flights will bring in a lot of money to the industry. The report expects space tourism to be worth $3 billion by the end of the next decade and for high-speed travel via outer-space to be worth almost seven times as much.
Every year, 150 million passengers travel on routes longer than 10 hours. The researchers behind the analysis estimated that if 5 percent of those passengers were to switch to suborbital flights with tickets in the range of $2,500, companies would be looking at more than $20 billion in revenue per year.
“Although some might view the potential to use space to service the long-haul travel market as science fiction, we think... there is a large market,” Jarrod Castle and Myles Walton, analysts with UBS, said in a note as reported by CNBC.
“While space tourism is still at a nascent phase, we think that as technology becomes proven, and the cost falls due to technology and competition, space tourism will become more mainstream," they added. "Space tourism could be the stepping stone for the development of long-haul travel on earth serviced by space.”