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Franchise Target Market: Space

The commercial space race is heating up. Will franchising soon see a space concept?

First Musk, then Bezos, now Branson

It seems all of the world’s billionaires are increasingly eager to… leave the world. Let’s ignore the darker implications of that trend for a minute and focus on what the rise in private space travel might mean for franchising.

For decades, space travel was funded and executed almost exclusively by public programs. But as innovation and exploration languished after the Cold War, many began wondering if an international arms race was not the only way to motivate advancements in the field. 

For many years, private space travel seemed an unlikely option given the ungodly amount of money a single company would have to amass to support a viable space program. Then came the 2000s, which ushered in a golden age of companies amassing ungodly amounts of money. 

In 2002, Elon Musk, real-life Iron Man and inventor of the, erm, tunnel, founded SpaceX, not the world’s first private space program, but the first to actually put a rocket into space. Since then, Jeff Bezo’s Blue Origin has made notable strides towards viable space travel, as has Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. The latter two billionaires are so confident in their respective programs that they have announced plans to personally board flights to space. 

So, is space tourism on the horizon? And if so, is franchising the next step? 

The second question is perhaps easier to answer. Once reliable, safe and cost-effective space tourism becomes a viable business model, you can bet on a franchise concept. After all, business models as far afield as swim lessons, home renovations and ED treatments have all found success through franchising. 

The first question is less clear.

Years ago, Virgin Galactic was already accepting $250,000 deposits from customers eager to board future space flights, but according to the Wall Street Journal, the company paused its sales and marketing indefinitely in 2014. And despite the confidence of these company’s high-profile executives, their vessels are still largely untested, and it will likely take years of successful flights before most consumers consider boarding a rocket themselves.

Until then, let’s all just sit back, relax, and watch as three of the world’s richest men race to fling themselves into the inky black void of space.