FastForward Group Releases Study on Point-to-Point Transport

The FastForward Study Group, a broadly represented aerospace industry working group focused on the issues of future very high-speed, global point-to-point (PTP) travel for passengers and cargo, today announces the public release of its first white paper entitled “Getting Faster: A case for high-speed global point-to-point flight as a logical transition between suborbital space tourism and low-cost, reusable space access.”

The release was announced at the 2009 International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight being held this week in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Las Cruces and nearby White Sands Missile Range are the home of Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport.

The “Getting Faster” white paper is available for immediate download from:

In this thought-provoking white paper, 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 proposed strategy recognizes the key transitional role that this new point-to-point transportation service will play between today’s single-site suborbital space tourism markets and future low cost, reliable orbital spaceflight. The U.S. aviation industry provides a model to emulate with respect to affordability, safety, and reliability. With its current emphasis on “getting faster”, PTP flight could serve as a logical incremental step toward achieving low cost access to space.

The FastForward Study Group is focused on examining pre-competitive issues and questions key to understanding the technical and economic viability of future high-speed global transportation services for passengers and cargo. based on either atmospheric or exo-atmospheric flight. These two emerging markets are related, and both share the goal of drastically reducing point-to-point travel times between long distance, transoceanic points on the globe to a matter of hours. The FastForward Study Group was organized in 2008 and is managed by SpaceWorks Commercial of Atlanta, GA USA.

Dr. John R. Olds, CEO of Atlanta-based SEI, serves as Executive Director of the FastForward Study Group. “Today’s announcement represents the culmination of a lot of hard work by the members of the FastForward Group. This release comes at a critical time in our nation’s space program. With the imminent release of the Augustine Committee’s report this week that will summarize its review NASA’s human spaceflight plans, many American space industry leaders and politicians are considering what the best strategies might be for achieving the nation’s long standing goals of low cost, reliable, and safe access to space. Our recommendation to focus on high-speed global point-to-point as a logical stepping stone toward achieving these goals is a practical approach for our national leadership to consider.

The white paper also makes a call for the government to fund a modest study, to be completed over the next year, to help support further investigation of the proposed strategy. This critical next step of research is needed to produce an actionable database of knowledge on the size and nature of the PTP market. PTP markets for passengers and priority packages must be better understood and supported with statistically valid analysis. Critical missing technologies must be identified. Aerospaceport needs must be prioritized. Key government roles must be established for various federal and state agencies. Prerequisites for private investment must also be identified. These products are all necessary to encourage public and private investment in the next advancement of flight.