Space Tourism Speeds Up

Image: Blue Origin

Things are picking up in space tourism. Over the weekend, a record-breaking 19 people were in space at once during Blue Origin’s six-passenger tourist flight. And it’s only going up from there.

Over the last week, two flights carrying eight total private space tourists launched: Blue Origin’s NS-19 mission carrying Michael Strahan et al to suborbital altitudes on Saturday, and a shuttle bringing Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and his film assistant Yozo Hirano to the ISS. 

Sky-high costs: Right now, these flights are pricey. Neither company has publicly stated what a ticket on these past trips ran its customers, but Maezawa’s tickets likely fell in the $50-60M range and a ride on Blue Origin’s New Shepard is estimated between $200,000-$500,000. But there’s demand, and as commercial space companies begin to plan larger flights, those prices could drop.

  • ~700 people have reserved tickets for future Virgin Galactic tourist flights. Those seats currently go for $450,000 apiece.
  • The size of the space tourism market is expected to grow to ~1.4B by 2025.

Ramping up: The space industry is gearing up for more frequent tourist flights. Virgin Galactic has announced its intention to eventually launch 400 ticketed flights per year, and SpaceX’s Starship could carry up to 100 tourists at a time. 

  • The FAA announced Friday that it is ending its commercial space astronaut wings program, saying it “expects the commercial human spaceflight industry to continue to grow and the number of people launching to space to increase dramatically in the coming years.”