Point-to-point rocket flights could be a $20B market

Sunday, March 24th, 2019

In a decade, high speed travel via outer space could represent a $20 billion market:

Long haul airplane flights that are more than 10 hours in duration would “be cannibalized” by point-to-point flights on rockets, UBS said. The firm pointed to SpaceX’s plans to use the massive Starship rocket it is building to fly as many as 100 people around the world in minutes. SpaceX said that Starship would be able to fly from New York to Shanghai in 39 minutes, rather than the 15 hours it takes currently by airplane.

UBS estimates that there are more than 150 million passengers a year that fly routes longer than 10 hours. Last year, those routes saw 527,000 routes on airplane that had an average of 309 seats, UBS said.

“If we assume that 5 percent of these flights in the future are serviced by space at $2,500 per trip, the revenue opportunity as of today would be more than $20 billion per year as of today,” UBS said


  1. Kirk says:

    I can’t wait for the medical implications of this idea… Not everybody can deal with the acceleration generated by a rocket, and rockets that can get to orbit “gently” enough for everyone to survive the experience…? Not fuel-efficient enough for this to work with anything we have currently.

    There’s a really good article about this dating back to when Omni was a real science magazine, which outlined the technical difficulties inherent to doing this kind of thing as a practical effort. At least, I think it was in Omni… Anyway, somewhere there’s an article that outlines it all, and I don’t see anything here that really changes the game.

  2. Kirk says:

    Oh, and the other thing? If you think the Chinese are going to be cool with having what amounts to a ballistic missile coming into their airspace from the US, or vice-versa…? LOL. Y’all are delusional as hell. It’d be just too damn easy to camouflage a really nice, big ICBM attack as one of these “routine flights”, and you’d be unable to do a damn thing about it. The security and regulatory nightmare surrounding this idea makes it a total non-starter. Unless you somehow fix that, and I don’t see it happening without some kind of complex deal where the Chinese are sitting in the launch control center here in the US, and vice-versa. And, then there’s the potential for suborning the safeguards…

    Whole idea is a non-starter, folks. Not in this world.

  3. Graham says:

    I remember reading in the late 80s that the longest non-stop flight was SAA New York to Johannesburg at about 13 hours. Now there are plenty such flights and then some.

    The longest I have ever taken [single flight] was Vancouver to Sydney at about 14 hours. It was the main leg of a flight that included Ottawa to Vancouver for 5 hours and a hop to Canberra at 30 minutes or so. Total trip time including waiting in lounges was 24hrs+. Even at that, I think the rocket would probably kill me. As long as I can have business class, it’s regular planes. If not, stick me on a ship. Pretty sure 24hrs in Economy would kill me. Or make me wish it had.

  4. Graham says:

    Maybe the Chinese will monopolize this business and feel safe that way. otherwise, agreed, never allow it.

  5. Harry Jones says:

    What makes the long flights bearable is jumbo jets. You can stretch your legs from time to time.

    Kirk has already pointed out what’s wrong with ballistic rockets. Supersonic is proven feasible, although the economics are borderline with existing technology. Hypersonic, anyone? Mach 5 would do nicely for hopping between the US and the Far East.

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