Ordinary people’s preferences for space tourism: A discrete choice experiment in Norway
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Recent years of the 21st century have seen the emergence of space tourism activities. This study analyzes data from a discrete choice experiment (DCE) on preferences for traveling into space conducted in Norway. In the DCE, we asked a representative sample of Norwegian individuals to express their optimal decision if faced with three alternatives: two different space travel options and a no-purchase/no travel option. After getting answers from the six choice cards from each respondent, we formulate utility functions that form the basis for estimating preferences and willingness to pay for space travel and space trip attributes. Multinomial logit estimation techniques are utilized to econometrically analyze the stated preference survey data. We found that mortality risk, trip cost, and carbon footprint negatively affect respondents’ preferences. In contrast, longer space trips in terms of time and distance in space bring more satisfaction and higher purchasing probabilities. Furthermore, prior interest and knowledge, sensation-seeking tendencies, age, gender, and social connection are significantly correlated with preferences for space travel, while income, education, family connections, and climate change concern appear to have no statistical influence on the stated choices of the respondents. Descriptive statistics from a likelihood question posed twice in the survey (before and after the DCE) indicate that about 48% of the respondents would go to space if one were offered the trip for free or if money was no issue. Econometric analysis of the DCE data yields a similar finding, though there is a difference across the two DCE versions, the CO2 emission version and the non-CO2 emission version. Specifically, the market shares are smaller at any trip price when we include the individual’s carbon footprint. The estimation results indicate that 1/5 of ordinary Norwegians would be willing to pay between NOK 2.42 million and NOK 4.27 million (financed with a loan paid back over ten years at zero interest rate) for a space trip. The corresponding overall reservation price, i.e., the maximum willingness to pay, ranges from NOK 15.77 million to NOK 16.5 million.