The commercial suborbital spaceflight industry could realise more than $1.5 billion in revenue in its first decade, according to new analysis.

A number of companies, led by Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, have already started taking bookings for suborbital travel, with a view to launching the first flights in late 2013.

Some customers have paid the full price of $200,000, while others have put down a $20,000 deposit for a seat on the inaugural flights.

The research, carried out by the Tauri Group in Virginia, USA, found that 925 people have already paid all or part of the fee for a suborbital flight, which will take passengers around 60 miles above the earth's surface before descending back into its atmosphere.

The Tauri researchers found that 80% of demand for suborbital travel will come from tourists, with further demand coming from sectors such as media, research and education. They also claim that around 8,000 high net-worth individuals possess the means and the enthusiasm to book a ticket.

Based on this projection, the industry could be worth between $600m (£385m) and and $1.6bn (£1.03bn) in its first ten years, depending on the success of promotional efforts and price incentive schemes.

"Our analysis indicates that about 8,000 high-net-worth individuals from across the globe are sufficiently interested and have spending patterns likely to result in the purchase of a suborbital flight - one-third from the United States, "Tauri researchers said.

"We estimate that about 40 per cent of the interested high-net-worth population, or 3,600 individuals, will fly within the 10-year forecast."

George Whitesides, CEO and president of Virgin Galactic, said his company has already accepted deposits worth $70m, and further commitments worth £107m, for places on the company's initial suborbital flights.