Report: Human Spaceflight Makes Up 80 Percent of Suborbital Demand

The Tauri Group has published a new report, Suborbital Reusable Vehicles: A 10-Year Forecast of Market Demand. The study was jointly funded by the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation and Space Florida.

The Tauri Group analyzed 8 different markets, including:

  • Commercial Human Spaceflight
  • Basic and Applied Research
  • Aerospace Technology Test and Demonstration
  • Media and Public Relations
  • Education
  • Satellite Deployment
  • Remote Sensing
  • Point-to-Point Transportation

The projected market demand over the 10-year period breaks down as follows:

Commercial Human Spaceflight80
Basic and Applied Research10
Aerospace Technology Test and Demonstration, Education,
Satellite Deployment, Media and PR
Remote Sensing, Point-to-Point Transportation0

Some key observations on these sectors from the report:

Commercial Human Spaceflight: “Our analysis indicates that about 8,000 high net worth individuals from across the globe are sufficiently interested and have spending patterns likely to result in the purchase of a suborbital flight—one-third from the United States (based on global wealth distribution). The interested population will grow at the same rate as the high net worth population (about 2% annually). We estimate that about 40% of the interested, high net worth population, or 3,600 individuals, will fly within the 10-year forecast period.

“We expect space enthusiasts outside the high net worth population will generate an additional 5% demand.

“The resulting baseline forecast is 335 seats in the first year, growing to nearly 400 seats by year 10, totaling about 4,000 over 10 years. The growth scenario predicts a total of 11,000 seats, the constrained scenario a total of 2,000. (About 925 individuals currently have reservations on SRVs.)”

Basic and Applied Research: “SRVs can support a wide range of possible activities, but offer unique capability primarily in four areas: atmospheric research, suborbital astronomy, longitudinal human research, and microgravity. These areas enable investigations that would be of immediate interest to space and science government agencies. Commercial firms will seek to test SRVs as research platforms are reflected in the forecast.”

Other Sectors: “The remaining 10% of demand is generated by Aerospace Technology Test and Demonstration, Education (which will see hundreds of schools and universities flying low cost, small payloads to provide students a learning tool), Satellite Deployment (which includes the launch of very small satellites), and Media and PR (through what we have predicted to be a small but influential number of flights for advertisements, documentaries, and television programming). In the growth scenario, demand in these markets doubles or triples. In the constrained scenario, demand is about half or less of baseline levels.

“Two markets are not forecasted to drive launches. SRVs can provide a platform for Remote Sensing activities, but do not offer a competitive advantage over competing satellites, aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Finally, in coming decades, SRVs could evolve into hypersonic airliners to support a market for Point-to-Point Transportation. However, this technology will not be available in the time horizon of this forecast.”

Editor’s Note:  Given the dominance of commercial human spaceflight in this market forecast, it will be absolutely crucial that there be no fatal accidents that scare away customers. This is an activity that nobody needs to do. If it suddenly looks too risky, people are going to risk losing their deposits rather than their lives.

Once can imagine a scenario in which a company has an accident and is forced to stand-down their vehicle for a period of time. A large number of the millionauts withdraw or switch to other providers. Eighty percent of the company’s business is devastated. Meanwhile, a similar shift occurs in the other market sectors. A company might not survive such an accident, even with liability protection from being sued.

Download the Report