Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

A View from David Appell

Riding on Virgin Galactic

My blogging colleague Wade Roush notes Richard Branson’s new space travel venture. Branson is charging £115,000 (about $208,000) for four minutes of weightlessness. At that price, only a very select few will ever be able to make the trip. The…

  • September 27, 2004

My blogging colleague Wade Roush notes Richard Branson’s new space travel venture. Branson is charging £115,000 (about $208,000) for four minutes of weightlessness. At that price, only a very select few will ever be able to make the trip. The average American/European makes about $40,000 a year, and saves only a few percent of that. I’m just guessing, but the average person might be able to spend up to a year’s salary on the flight of a lifetime. (Another guess is that a person might be willing to spend about half of his or her retirement savings, which comes out to about $50,000. That would mean Branson’s initial asking price needs to be brought down by a factor of four if the average person is to fly into space in their lifetime. Could the cost fall that low? It’s probably never worthwhile to bet against the economics of technologies, though space flight is a rather established one. NASA apparently thinks the cost of placing payloads into low Earth orbit can be reduced by another order of magnitude) using technologies like the Reusable Launch Vehicle, so perhaps space flight for the common man isn’t out of the question.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Online Only.
  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.