Picture: 123RF/Romolo Tavani
Picture: 123RF/Romolo Tavani

London — Flying people to hang out in outer space could be worth $23bn by 2030, UBS predicted.

Space hotels, theme park rides and flying wealthy long-haul passengers into orbit are among the opportunities to tap once the space industry gets off the ground, UBS analysts Jarrod Castle and Myles Walton said. The total space industry could be worth around $805bn by then, they said, with commercial aviation carving out about $20bn of that and tourism accounting for about $3bn.

While some might consider the potential for space “to service the long-haul travel market on earth as science fiction, we think that, as space technology continues to evolve and costs fall” airlines may embrace the idea, Castle and Walton said. Long-haul routes of 10 hours or more carrying affluent and time-sensitive customers could utilise space travel, the analysts said.

Companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic are investing heavily to eventually bring tourists into space. At present, the race is focused on resuming crewed flights of US astronauts. SpaceX sent the unmanned Crew Dragon to the International Space Station earlier this month and is working toward sending up a manned mission. Two Virgin Galactic pilots breached the Earth’s atmosphere on a test flight in December.

Passengers appear willing to try it, but prices would need to fall for it to become mainstream. A UBS survey found respondents would be more comfortable travelling on a spaceship than on a pilot-less plane.

Once the industry gets going, Castle and Walton reckon it will open opportunities for plenty of listed companies. Branded hotel operators could license their names to space hotels, entertainment firms could eventually offer space tourism as theme park attractions and tour operators could get into the game, though they may start out by using virtual reality.