This article provides an overview of space tourism customer demand activity over the past 20 years. Customer demand activity is represented by: paid customer spaceflights; ticket reservations with associated deposits; public ticket auction registered bidders; and inbound customer requests for additional information regarding private astronauts flights.
A space tourism market forecast is available in Practical Market Size Estimates For Space Tourism.
Virgin Galactic has not flown any paying customers as of December 2021. Virgin Galactic was open for ticket sales between 2004 and 2014. During that period of time, they secured approximately 600 customers from 58 countries. Those customers collectively paid over $80 million in refundable deposits for future flights priced at $250,000. Virgin Galactic also have over 900 customers who have expressed an interest in future flights and who have collectively paid approximately $900,000 in refundable deposits in order to give them priority for a future booking. After Richard Branson’s flight, 60,000 people signed up on their website to request information on flying with Virgin Galactic.
In 2021, Virgin Galactic made changes to their pricing, flights now start at $450,000 per passenger. Virgin Galactic also restarted ticket sales in 2021 and secured an additional 100 customers for future flights at the new ticket price. Ticket prices are within reach of the very high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals.
Virgin Galactic is expected to begin commercial operations in 4Q 2022.
Virgin Galactic currently operates out of Spaceport America in New Mexico, with intentions to establish spaceports in Italy and Dubai.
Other notable Virgin Galactic customer related events include: Several celebrities have signed up for tickets, including: Leonard DiCaprio, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Tom Hanks, and Angelina Jolie. Ashton Kutcher, an actor and technology investor, returned his ticket to Virgin Galactic due to concerns over risk. Lady Gaga has been invited to perform on a future flight. Also, in 2011, William Shatner (actor, “Captain Kirk”) was offered the opportunity to fly to space by Richard Branson, but he declined. Shatner commented to reporters “He wanted me to go up and pay for it and I said: ‘Hey, you pay me and I’ll go up. I’ll risk my life for a large sum of money.’ But he didn’t take me up on my offer.”
Blue Origin has flown 8 paying customers as of December 2021, and has another 6 paying customers committed to fly in 2022, for a total estimated $392 million. In 2021, Blue Origin ran an auction for a seat on the first commercial launch of New Shepard. The auction winner ended up paying $28 million, which puts Blue Origin tickets within the reach of ultra high net worth individuals. In 2018 it leaked out that Blue Origin was planning to offer tickets for between $200,000 and $300,000 which would put tickets within reach of the very high net worth individuals and ultra high net worth individuals.
It is worth noting that the Blue Origin seat auction had 7,600 registered bidders from 159 different countries, which shows significant customer interest.
Blue Origin launches spaceflights out of a spaceport in Texas, with intentions to set up a spaceport in Dubai.
Other notable Blue Origin customer related events include: Tom Hanks (actor) recently disclosed that he was offered a flight by Jeff Bezos, but declined because of the high price of $28 million. William Shatner (actor) and Michael Strahan (TV personality) flew to space with Blue Origin in 2021 as guests of Jeff Bezos. In exchange for the free flights, Blue Origin received global media coverage and enthusiastic endorsements from the celebrities. And last but not least, Amazon Prime Video produced a documentary covering William Shatner’s spaceflight and it is currently streaming.
Roscosmos has flown 10 paying customers (including 1 American who flew twice) as of December 2021, for total estimated sales of $600 million. Flights are estimated to have cost between $50 and $60 million per passenger, which puts Roscosmos tickets within the reach of ultra high net worth individuals ($500+ million).
Roscosmos launches all human spaceflights out of Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Other notable Roscosmos customer related events include: Roscosmos flew Dennis Tito to the ISS in 2001, making him the first space tourist. Daisuke Enomoto was scheduled to fly in 2006 but was disqualified from flying due to a medical condition. Sarah Brightman was scheduled to fly in 2014 but canceled during training due to personal reasons. In 2021 Roscosmos flew a Russian film crew to ISS for production of a film. As an interesting sidenote, Guy Laliberte (the first Canadian space tourist) tried unsuccessfully to claim the $42 million ($53 million in 2021) cost of his 2009 trip with Roscosmos as a Cirque du Soleil business expense.
SpaceX has flown 4 paying customers and currently has another 4 paying customers that will launch in February 2022 – for total estimated sales of $440 million. Flights cost $55 million per passenger, which puts SpaceX tickets within the reach of ultra high net worth individuals ($500+ million).
SpaceX launches all human spaceflights out of Cape Canaveral and may be constrained by availability of launch slots.
Other notable SpaceX customer related events include: In 2020 NASA announced they were working with SpaceX and Tom Cruise to produce a movie on the ISS; no timeline was released. A Japanese billionaire has committed to paying for an around the moon flight with SpaceX. The moon flight is scheduled for 2023 and will include up to 12 passengers and crew; the flight cost was not disclosed. Space Adventures recently had to cancel a planned orbital trip using SpaceX when they were unable to find customers for that reservation. And last but not least, a Netflix miniseries covering the Inspiration4 mission was produced and is streaming now.