Skift Take

If all it takes for us to travel faster between destinations is a kick in the pants provided by the ultra-rich wanting to get to their second homes in a tenth of the time, then we're all for it.

The world’s wealthiest people may start using suborbital space travel, pioneered by investors such as Richard Branson, to cut travel times and expand their property empires, according to Knight Frank LLP.

More than 70 individuals with a combined wealth of $200 billion are investing in space projects including travel, Knight Frank said in a statement before its release of The Wealth Report 2014 set for March 5. A suborbital trip from London to Sydney, covering 10,553 miles (16,947 kilometers), will take about two hours and 12 minutes or one-tenth the time of flying by conventional plane.

“New commercial space will be one of the most exciting investment sectors in the next 20 years,” Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic LLC, was cited as saying in the statement.

London is currently beating New York as the global wealth hub because of its proximity to Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Russia, according to the London-based real-estate company. The location premium may fall within a decade as space flights cut travel times, it said.

“Ticket price will be critical,” Knight Frank said in the statement. “If this is a technology for billionaires only, then property market disruption might be limited to a wider choice of global lunch options.”

Reduced travel time may encourage investors from China and India to buy their second homes in Europe, the property consultancy said.

“By traveling outside the Earth’s atmosphere, gravitational forces will allow spacecraft to travel at over 4,000 miles per hour,” Liam Bailey, Knight Frank’s head of residential research, said in the statement. “So breakfast in Mayfair could easily be followed by lunch overlooking Sydney Opera House.”

Other areas of investment include asteroid mining for precious metals, according to Knight Frank. Planetary Resources Inc. and Deep Space Industries Inc. are taking investment beyond sub-orbital flights to possible asteroid mining. The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration has researched the possibility for asteroid mining, according to the report.

Editors: Stephen Kirkland, David Risser. To contact the reporter on this story: Eduard Gismatullin in London at [email protected] To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at [email protected] 

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Tags: space tourism, vacation rentals, virgin galactic

Photo credit: The Virgin Galactic SpaceShip2 glides toward Earth on its first test flight over Mojave, California. Mark Greenberg-Virgin Galactic/Handout / Reuters

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