According to a paper released by British consulting firm Knight Frank, which specializes in trends for “ultra-high net worth individuals,” sub-orbital commuter flights traveling at about 4,000 miles per hour (today's planes go around 500 mph), will be ready for the public by 2020.
The key is getting companies that are already approved for sub-orbital space travel (like Virgin Galactic) to stop planning trips just straight into the thermosphere and back down, and instead to start traveling around the globe.
Virgin Galactic’s founder Richard Branson has already indicated that he’s looking into this. He imagines a “future version of the current spaceship which will make transcontinental travel clean and fast — London to Sydney in a couple of hours.”
The flights are estimated to cost anywhere between $90,000 and $250,000 a pop making them accessible to only the top 0.01%. Call it billionaire-exclusive technology.
Yahoo Finance tech reporter Aaron Pressman also has some qualms with the technology itself. “These [jets] can only take off and land in very special places like the spaceport that’s in New Mexico,” he says. “That’s not going to help the 0.1% get from New York to London or Australia. So it’s going to take a while before these rockets become more like normal airplanes that can land at normal airports.”
Still, if proper infrastructure is built large-scale sub-orbital operations could becomea reality and prices could become affordable, says Pressman, but not for a long time. “Maybe our grandchildren will experience it,” he says.