December 07, 2009

Suborbital Tourism is Stepping Stone to Two Hour Flights Around the World

Spaceshiptwo is being unveiled today and should soon result in thousands of trips from a spaceport to suborbital 60+ mile height and then return to the same launch point for $200,000 per trip

This is laying the groundwork for global high-speed air and space travel with two hour flights anywhere in the world (where there is a suitable takeoff and landing site).

Here is a 15 page presentation by the Fast Forward advocacy group about Getting Faster Point to point travel

The FastForward Study Group proposes a new incremental aerospace strategy that recognizes the synergistic role that the emerging market for high-speed global transportation has with the nation’s long-term goals for low-cost, reliable space access.

The emerging commercial high-speed global transportation market for passengers and goods offers significant technical and economic synergies with future commercial space access services. Recognizing the key transitional role that this new Point-to-Point (or PTP) transportation service will play between today’s single-site suborbital space tourism markets and future low cost, reliable orbital spaceflight, the FastForward Study Group supports the development of a new coordinated national strategy that recognizes the synergistic role that the emerging market for high-speed global transportation has with the nation’s long-term goals for low-cost, reliable space access.

Building on its successful business model for subsonic air travel, many players in the U.S. aviation industry are now focused on “getting faster”. Driven by economic globalization, flight speeds and ranges are being pushed to make global air travel more practical by reducing flight times and eliminating stopovers. Ongoing technological advancements in highspeed aviation and suborbital space tourism
will soon produce extremely long range, reusable aerospace vehicles capable of flying at hypersonic speeds and exo-atmospheric altitudes. For some shippers and business travelers speed is crucial, and these aviation customers would greatly value and utilize air transportation systems that fly much faster than achievable today. Global high-speed PTP flight will require reusable flight vehicles utilizing new propulsion and structures technologies, ground infrastructures, and business strategies that prioritize reliability, safety, and affordability due to market necessity. Environmental impacts such as noise and emissions must be reduced

Step 1 – Continued Encouragement of Single-Site Reusable Suborbital Transport (like Virgin Galactic - spaceshiptwo and white knight two)

Step 2 - Global High-speed Point-To-Point

Building on a successful aviation industry foundation, a future PTP transportation network could serve important commercial centers around the globe with new and enhanced services, specifically better next-day and same day options for fast package deliveries and time-saving flight options for long distance transoceanic passenger routes. For passenger service, key business traveler routes exist between the U.S. and Asia and the U.S. and Europe that support 500 - 1,000 passengers per day each way. For cargo, a future PTP priority cargo service could be an evolution of the current $100B per year global fast package businesses operated by companies like UPS, FedEx, and DHL. Decreasing door-to-door transportation times in an increment of value to private and military customers will demand significantly faster transportation systems relative to today’s subsonic airliners. To be successful, a revolutionary new global PTP service must “get faster” while maintaining economic competitiveness and a track record for safety and reliability.

The technological challenge of flying vertically up in altitude to the edge of space and back to the launch site is moderate compared to the technological challenges of 1) flying halfway around the globe exo-atmospherically in under two hours or 2) reaching an orbital flight condition. In either latter case, focused technology
developments will be needed.

A parallel emphasis of the proposed incremental space development plan must address the requisite ground infrastructure. In reaction to the emerging suborbital space
tourism market, new FAA-licensed aerospaceports are springing up in many states
across the country (e.g. New Mexico, Florida, Oklahoma, California, and Virginia).

Step 3 - Reusable Orbital Flight

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