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Flying people to hang out in outer space could be a $23 billion industry by 2030, experts say

Flying people to hang out in outer space could be a $23 billion industry by 2030, experts say
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Space hotels, theme park rides and flying wealthy long-haul passengers into orbit are among the opportunities to tap once the space industry gets off the ground, UBS analysts Jarrod Castle and Myles Walton said. The total space industry could be worth around $805 billion by then, they said, with commercial aviation carving out around $20 billion of that and tourism accounting for around $3 billion.

While some might consider the potential for space “to service the long-haul travel market on earth as science fiction, we think that, as space technology continues to evolve and costs fall” airlines may embrace the idea, Castle and Walton said. Long-haul routes of 10 hours or more carrying affluent and time-sensitive customers could utilize space travel, the analysts said.

In this Jan. 3, 2019 photo provided by SpaceX, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft is rolled out to Launch Complex 39A for a dry run to prep for the upcoming Demo-1 flight test at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX via AP

Companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic Ltd. are investing heavily to eventually bring tourists into space. At present, the race is focused on resuming crewed flights of U.S. astronauts. SpaceX sent the unmanned Crew Dragon to the International Space Station earlier this month and is working toward sending up a manned mission. Two Virgin Galactic pilots breached the Earth’s atmosphere on a test flight in December.

Passengers appear willing to try it, but prices would need to fall for it to become mainstream. A UBS survey found respondents would be more comfortable traveling on a spaceship than on a pilot-less plane.

Once the industry gets going, Castle and Walton reckon it will open opportunities for plenty of listed companies. Branded hotel operators could license their names to space hotels, entertainment firms could eventually offer space tourism as theme park attractions and tour operators could get into the game, though they may start out by using virtual reality.

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