A Parametric Investigation of the Economics of Space Tourism

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B. Parkinson (2006), JBIS, 59, 417-421

Refcode: 2006.59.417
Keywords: Space tourism, reusable launch vehicle, parametric cost modelling

In comparison with other large scale Space projects, “Space Tourism” requires only one development - a suitable, economic, Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV). The high flight rates associated with “tourism” are expected to make RLV operations more economically attractive. However, currently projected RLV launch prices appear well above those affordable by tourists. A study of the economics of Space Tourism has been made using an Integrated Parametric System Model to assess potential future RLV performance and costs. The estimated costs per passenger for “first generation” RLVs are still above estimates for an acceptable market price per ticket, but are not an order of magnitude different. Technology improvements, particularly engine technology, can be expected to make reductions in the ticket cost. Repayment of non-recurring (development) costs can form up to 50% of the costs per flight, but an initial market might be started using “second hand” vehicles developed for other purposes. Finally, the slow but steady growth of “real income” over an extended period can be expected to make what are now unaffordable prices for a ride into orbit more affordable in 20 - 30 years time.

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