Jeff, who happens to be in a really good position to know, clears up a common misconception about the Futron Space Tourism study that I’ve seen made a lot of places (including in the comments section here):
This author, being intimately familiar with the forecast, can shed some light on that forecast. A common misconception about the study is that it forecasts the number of people who will actually fly. Instead, it forecasts the demand for space tourism based on the level of interest among the population of people with the means to pay for such flights. Realizing that demand is a separate issue (as can be seen in the delays in opening the even-larger market for suborbital space tourism.) The supply of vehicles that could serve the orbital space tourism market was dramatically affected by the Columbia accident and the concomitant policy changes. At the time the study was released the ISS was scheduled for completion by mid-decade, with an increase in the number of Soyuz flights, all of which could accommodate at least one commercial passenger. Delays in assembling the station and the planned retirement of the shuttle have all affected the number of seats available, and have kept prices high.
His next paragraphs also make the point that Space Tourism isn’t the only commercial human spaceflight market.
I’m not opposed to other markets, and in some ways have become a much bigger fan of propellants as an early RLV market, but I think the “case” against the commercial spaceflight market has always been a rather weak one.
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