UBS Predicts Revolution of Long-Haul Travel

Is this the future of aviation? Flights taking from New York to Shanghai via low Earth orbit in 39 minutes. Or from London to Dubai in 29 minutes. According to analysts of Swiss bank UBS
ultra-fast point-to-point transports operated by rocket-aircraft will become an option for travelers and extremely urgent cargo shipments alike, challenging traditional long-distance
flights.

High-speed air transportation of people and ultra-urgent cargo consignments via near-Earth space in less than an hour from takeoff to landing is a huge future market, the UBS study says.

High-speed air transportation of people and ultra-urgent cargo consignments via near-Earth space in less than an hour from takeoff to landing is a huge future market, the UBS study says.

Keen vision, based on facts
Is this a dream, science fiction or nothing but a trivial announcement to make publicity for the analytical abilities of the Swiss bank? By no means, holds UBS. They believe that their keen
prediction could take concrete shape and become reality at the end of the next decade.
Their main argument: Private space companies are “investing aggressively across the space opportunity,” while access to space “is the enabler to broader opportunities for investment,” including
aerial vehicles able to fly people and ultra-rapid cargo to far-flung countries in minutes.
In a nutshell, these are the key points highlighted in UBS’s study:

 

  • Within a decade, high-speed voyages via outer space represent an annual market of at least 18 billion euros.
  • The broader space industry will double until 2030 from today 350 bn euros to 712 bn euros until then.
  • High-speed transportation via outer space operated point-to-point by special rockets will ultimately cannibalize long-distance flights operated by airlines.
Blue Origin's New Shepard suborbital vehicle on the pad prior to an April 29 launch. Credit: Blue Origin
Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle on the pad prior to an April 29 launch. Credit: Blue Origin

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Suborbital vehicles pose a risk to traditional network carriers
Particularly the last-mentioned bullet point should worry the Air China’s, Delta Air Lines’, Lufthansa’s or Emirates Airlines’ of this world. Their business model might go to ashes once
point-to-point rocket flights have turned into a financially affordable high-speed alternative to rather time-consuming traditional long-haul flights. The UBS bankers point to SpaceX’s plans to
convert their Starship rocket into an aerial vehicle capable of catapulting as many as 100 passengers over long distances in less than an hour from takeoff till arrival.

Space tourism as stepping stone for earthly point-point rocket flights
According to UBS, there are more than 150 million passengers a year that fly routes longer than 10 hours.
“While space tourism is still at a nascent phase, we think that as technology becomes proven, and the cost falls due to technology and competition, space tourism will become more mainstream,” UBS
analysts Jarrod Castle and Myles Walton wrote in a note. “Space tourism could be the stepping stone for the development of long-haul travel on earth serviced by space.”
UBS believes there will be very lucrative ramifications from the space flight efforts currently led by SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and Amazon Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. Ramifications that tend to
revolutionize long-haul travel and cargo carriage on Earth.

Bezos, Musk or Branson, who will win the race?
The future of sub-orbital travel may already be closer than predicted by UBS. Amazon Jeff Bezos’ owned Blue Origin announced plans to start flying people on their New Shephard suborbital
spacecraft beginning this year. “We are going to have rockets that are dedicated to payloads, as well as rockets that are going to be flying people to space,” said Ariane Cornell, the company’s
director of astronaut and orbital sales. Last January. Blue Origin’s New Shepherd accomplished successfully its 10th uncrewed test flight.
It can be expected that Elon Musk and his SpaceX as well as Richard Branson-initiated Virgin Galactic will follow suit. All three billionaires are thus paving the way for commercial suborbital
point-point flights.


Heiner Siegmund

Source: Cargoforwarder

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