Commercial Spacecraft Industry to Boom

First Posted: Aug 02, 2012 06:47 AM EDT

A new report released by the Tauri Group details the demand for suborbital reusable vehicles (SRVs) that are a new class of powered vehicles designed to cross the threshold of space-carrying cargo or people.

The report "Suborbital Reusable Vehicles: A Ten Year Forecast of Market Demand," analyzes emerging SRV markets and identifies drivers growth.

The joint study that was conducted by Tauri Group was funded by Space Florida (Florida's spaceport authority and aerospace development organization) and the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA/AST).

The new analysis stated that commercial spaceflight could become a $1.6 billion industry in the next decade. The study, though, limited the target demographic to focus primarily on very high net worth individuals, which ensured a conservative approach to the forecast.

The Tauri Group estimates baseline demand for SRVs - reflecting predictable trends that exist today - at between 400 and 500 seat equivalents each year, for people and cargo. A growth scenario sees that number nearly triple to between 1,000 and 1,500 seat equivalents per year. Additional potential demand is possible from unknowns such as research discoveries, commercial applications, or a viral consumer response. Price reductions would also increase demand.

"This study reveals great promise for the suborbital spaceflight industry," noted Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello. "Florida has made significant investments to jumpstart growth in suborbital spaceflight through direct investments in suborbital companies, spaceport infrastructure, purchase of launch services, and developing the market through a flight incentive program."

The dominant in the SRV market is Commercial Human Spaceflight - human spaceflight experiences for tourism or training - generating more than 80 percent of SRV demand.

It is being estimated that nearly five additional markets are predicted to be active in the 10-year forecast period namely, 'Basic and Applied Research', 'Aerospace Technology Test and Demonstration', 'Satellite Deployment', 'Education', and 'Media and Public Relations.'

George Whitesides, CEO and president of Virgin Galactic, said his company has already accepted deposits worth $70m, and further commitments worth £107m, for places on the company's initial suborbital flights.

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