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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.

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