Outer space travel to compete with long-haul airline flights

In only ten years, flights from New York to Shanghai could take 39 minutes compared to the current 15 hours

Once considered impossible, long-distance flights are cruising the skies constantly these days. But who would have ever thought travelling the world can be done within just a few minutes?

The recently published UBS report estimates that within a decade, travelling via outer space will represent an annual market of $20 million. In the end, this estimate “could prove conservative.”

“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,” wrote the UBS analysts Jarrod Castle and Myles Walton.

“Space tourism could be the stepping stone for the development of long-haul travel on earth serviced by space.”

By 2030, space tourism will become a $3 million market. Cutting down on the travelling time, it will compete with the current long-distance flights that airlines are offering to their passengers.

“We estimate space tourism will be a $3 [billion plus per year] opportunity growing at double digit-rates,” UBS said. “This would be similar to what happened in commercial aviation, especially after the rise of low-cost airlines.”

There is potentially a large market for commercial space travel

Virgin Galactic, SpaceX and Blue Origin are currently the leading companies within the space travel innovations. SpaceX is making plans to manufacture a rocket that would take 100 people around the world in mere minutes. The Starship rocket is expected to fly from New York to Shanghai in 39 minutes.

 

According to UBS, around 150 million passengers annually take flights longer than 10 hours.

“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,” UBS said.

“Given the length of long-haul commercial travel, and the rules around crewing and take-off and landing time slot restrictions at airports, we think a reusable rocket (especially if not land-based) would have materially better utilisation rates than a commercial plane,” added the UBS.

Up until now, only a small number of travellers willing to pay enormous amounts of money could enjoy space travel. Space Adventures has flown seven tourists, at a reported cost of more than $20 million per person.

However, according to UBS, “there are a number of commercial space ventures to open up suborbital travel”, making it possible to move into attainable space travel soon.