The commercial space station market is seeing huge investments lately that raised quite a lot of interest in orbital space travel. Sierra Space recently raised USD290 million to support the development of its Dream Chaser vehicle and Orbital Reef space station, and Axiom Space has received a USD350 million investment to develop its own space.
Virgin Galactic performed six suborbital spaceflights so far this year, increasing the hype surrounding the space travel market. One would think 2023 would be a turnaround year for Virgin Galactic, but announcements that it is laying off 18% of its current workforce and reducing flights of its VSS Unity to “concentrate on higher revenue opportunities”.
This past Sunday, NASA’s Artemis I mission splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. It was an historic occasion, both the 50th anniversary of the last human lunar landing, as well as a milestone marking the beginning of NASA’s return to the Moon. Days before, Japanese billionaire, Yusaku Maezawa, revealed his 8-person crew to accompany him.
Last year, NASA awarded Blue Origin, Nanoracks, and Northrop Grumman $416 million in contracts toward the study of designs of commercially-operated space stations. With the ISS currently planned for retirement by 2031, and following the growing commercialization of LEO, its government owners are looking at potential replacements. Space tourism is publicized as the next commercial.
A study from analysts at Northern Sky Research (NSR) suggests that by 2031 some 57,500 passengers will be taking a trip into space. The value of this space tourism and orbital travel will capture the majority of an overall cumulative $20.3 billion in related revenues. The numbers come from NSR’s Space Tourism & Travel Markets,.