Space Tourism and Industry to Get to Colonization Critical Mass

Could space tourism enable lunar and orbital colonization to reach critical mass? I view colonization critical mass to be over 300k people.

Around 1745, the American colonies passed a population of 1 million. This population had doubled twice from 250,000 people in 1700 and nearly tripled by 1780 to 2.7 million.

SpaceX Super Heavy Starship (SHS) needs to bring the cost of space tourism down to $2000-20,000 per trip to achieve a mass market. Elon Musk has talked about bringing the per flight cost down to $2-10 million. A SHS that lifts 120 tons to low earth orbit for $5 million could bring 1000 people to orbit every trip. This would be $5000 per person.

Theme park and amusement parks in the US had 210,000 staff in 2019. Disney properties had a staff of 77,000. The pre-COVID global cruise industry had a staff of 1.2 million and served 30 million passenger trips.

If 10% of those traveling were spending over $5000 and space theme parks and tourism was the hot new experience then getting to millions of passengers every year and having a staff of 200,000 people would be getting most of the way to critical colonization mass. If people were averaging 2-week trips, then 6 million annual passengers would be a rotating 220,000 people every 2 weeks.

The population levels could be boosted with permanent science expeditions, manned lunar space telescopes, orbital telescopes.

Adventure tourism was the fastest growing niche and grew 65 percent yearly from 2009-2013. The total value of outbound adventure tourism worldwide reached $263 billion (2013) up significantly from the $89 million (2009). Global adventure tourism was $587 billion in 2018.

Most of the “adventure tourism” is soft nature tourism. Hard adventure refers to activities with high levels of risk, requiring intense commitment and advanced skills. Hard tourism includes the activities like climbing mountains/rock/ice, trekking, caving etc.

Mountaineering and caving in the 1800s was an activity of the elite. About 2-3 million people in the US participate in climbing (traditional/ice/mountaineering). There is probably double that number in the world. There are similar numbers of scuba divers. The more hard-core participants are probably only 2-5% of those totals.

Space adventure expeditions would be separate from lunar and orbital theme parks. This could be another 50,000 to 200,000 people in staff and participants.

The biggest numbers could be in colonizing pioneers. The hardcore space believers who want to open the frontier like many of those who opened the American West.

The big draws would be living with greater freedom. How many would go to extremes for greater freedom and to perhaps own land on the moon or permanently reside in a space station?

There are an estimated 3 million survivalists in the US but only 2% have made long-term doomsday preparations. This is about 60,000.

The L5 society had a peak of about 10,000 members and 25000 were in the National Space Society. However, space travel never developed.

Government and Military Would Go As Well

Counter-freedom forces would go as well. Global governments and militaries would also establish bases. This would likely be staffed at 20% of the level of any tourism. The US Navy and Coast Guard probably has 100,000 people at sea on ships and submarines at all times.

Would there be a lunar or orbital gold rush?

There is improving capabilities in 3D manufacturing. There is also 3D printing of buildings. If an early lunar, Mars or asteroid colonist could take regolith and space materials and create far more living space and production capability then this could be a draw for entrepreneurial makers.

There are currently over 50 million creators on Youtube, Instagram, Twitch, TikTok, and other social media platforms. Two million of them are full-time, and they earn six-figure salaries by creating content daily or weekly. If space colonists could use their unique location to create social media followings then this could be a new space media gold rush. Social media creation will likely grow by five times over the next twenty years. Fully replicating earth-based social media creation in space would see ten million space-based content creating colonists.

Once Critical Mass Population is Achieved

Once critical mass population levels are achieved, then more industries would be created by and for the existing colonists.

SOURCES- Wikipedia, tripsavvy
Written by Brian Wang,