Exactly how big is the private / personal spaceflight industry?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

SpaceShipOne, the first private space tourism spaceship to fly above the 100-km Kármán line
SpaceShipOne, the first private space tourism spaceship to fly above the 100-km Kármán line

Note that this is just personal spaceflight, so it doesn't count NASA or any other national space programs except those that let individuals pay to participate.

It turns out that the whole industry comes out to a total of $268 million, a 50% increase over the last year. This will only increase once Virgin Galactic starts offering flights next year. Here's the source. Also note that SpaceX was a large driver of this year's numbers, and they have been doing quite well recently, with a successful five engine firing yesterday, and a planned launch for the Falcon 1 on June...24th or so. This will be its third launch, and hopefully this one turn out to be 100% successful.

Here are some quotes from the article:

The report, highlights of which were slated for release May 31 here at the 27th annual International Space Development Conference, shows that personal spaceflight was a $268 million industry in 2007. Fully three-quarters of that revenue — or about $206 million — came from "hardware sales, development and support services." Included in this category is the SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle being developed by Scaled Composites of Mojave, Calif., for Virgin Galactic. Another example is Space Exploration Technologies' Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule, which are funded in part by NASA's $500 million Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) space station logistics program and have crew-carrying potential.

Christensen said COTS work by Hawthorne, Calif.-based Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, was the primary driver of the 67 percent growth in hardware and development revenue the industry saw from 2006 to 2007. In fact, all of SpaceX's revenue, including income from the U.S. Defense Department for launches of the company's Falcon-1 small rocket, was included in the total since the technology has application to the company's human spaceflight effort, said John Gedmark, executive director of the Personal Spaceflight Federation.

Personal spaceflight services generated $38.8 million in 2007, about one-seventh of the industry total for the year, the study found. This category includes the $20 million-per-seat Russian Soyuz flights booked through Space Adventures of Vienna, Va., and the five- and six-figure deposits New Mexico-based Virgin Galactic and others have taken for future suborbital flights.


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