Ah 2017, you’re not shaping up to be any better than 2016! One month in and many of us are already pulling out our hair. While I can’t seem to stop reading depressing and outrageous headlines, I’m trying to keep my eyes on the future — the bright future of space tourism.
Though we’re already one month into 2017, this story idea was one I pitched to an outside publication early in January. They stalled on it, and I decided it was worth sharing here. Let’s launch right into it! … 😆
1. (Future) Prices Will Come Down
Now that the doorway to space tourism has been built, it is an inevitability that prices will begin to fall.
These prices may not reflect present costs (such as the $250,000 ticket you can currently buy on Virgin Galactic), but you’ll see farther-abreast opportunities to participate in space tourism for a much lower cost.
For example, there’s a company called SpaceVault who offer a space tourism Certificate of Deposit. For $10,000 today, you will receive one seat on a space tourism experience in 40 years. The company has designed the CD to show stable but consistent growth for four decades, and reinvest earnings in the industry to ensure you’ll get the seat you’ve paid for.
Additionally, more companies will enter the market; basic economics tell us that increased supply and competition will drive down prices over time.
I get a lot of pushback on this idea because the cost of space tourism is so exorbitant right now. But just imagine: in the 1920s, taking a flight required exorbitant funds. Up until the last few decades, visiting Antarctica required exorbitant funds. Prices come down over time, and the space tourism industry is moving fast.
2. We’ll Get to See Manned Test Flights
I was going to say we’ll see the first manned test flights, but as Virgin Galactic has been doing manned tests for several years, that isn’t strictly true.
I do expect we’ll see Blue Origins put some highly qualified pilots into space at least once this year, and several non-rocket tour providers are also eyeing the next 12 months for manned test flights. Companies like WorldView Enterprises and Zero2Infinity — two companies that plan to use balloon-based lift to reach orbit — are being a little more cautious in publicizing their timelines, but on the whole, test flights are coming.
I won’t go so far as to predict that all of the test flights in 2017 will be successful, unfortunately. Space is an unforgiving territory to try and conquer, and we’ve seen most companies (including NASA, Roscosmos, and my golden child, SpaceX) struggle to learn from what space will and will not allow us to do.
3. There Will Be More Space in “Space” Tourism
Perhaps my favorite prediction of this year, I’m foreseeing a huge “opening of minds” about space tourism in the next 12 months. Just because we can’t take a rocket to low earth orbit doesn’t mean we aren’t space tourists. Here are just some of the ways you can be a space tourist this year, from Earth:
- Go for a zero-G experience.
- Watch a launch (there are dozens of launch locations, from New Zealand to Florida!).
- Go to Space Camp (👈 I’m going this year!).
- Watching the total solar eclipse in August (Evergreen Escapes has the tour I recommend).
- Visiting space museums like Space Center Houston or the Smithsonian National Museum of Air & Space.
- Take a space-themed luxury cruise…
The list goes on, but you get the idea: “space” tourism doesn’t have to be in space — it can (and will) be about space. For many tourists, that is all it will be, but that doesn’t detract from the industry. In fact, it opens lots of opportunities for…
4. Savvy Destinations to (Continue to) Tap into That
Destinations that have strong space ties, like Houston, Texas, Space Coast, Florida, and Huntsville (aka “Rocket City”), Alabama, have a great opportunity to tap into the small but rabid group of tourists who will travel solely for space-related activities.
We know this is the case, as the Space Coast saw a 14% increase in tourism spend from 2015 to 2016. This is not small fries when the same area of Florida also offers some of the most desirable theme park destinations in the world.
Even non-traditional space tourism destinations can take advantage of opportunities to market space activities. For example, I was surprised to find a test Apollo mission capsule outside the Grand Rapids Public Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Missouri State Parks department is planning ahead a massive surge in tourism related to the solar eclipse this year. I mean, who thinks that Missouri and space have anything in common? In 2017, they do.
There you have it: my predictions for our year ahead. I’ll look back toward the end of 2017 to see how my predictions went, and what I forecast for the year ahead. 🚀