Developments in the point-to-point space transportation sector promise to be “truly revolutionary”, said Jess Sponable, President and CTO of New Frontier Aerospace.

Parallel to the emergence of commercial spaceports globally is the development of a new class of high-speed aerospace vehicles that can travel between any two points on Earth within a couple of hours.

Although many different design concepts have been proposed, the ability to conduct high-speed, long-distance transportation through space, initially for cargo, but eventually for people, will be a major game-changer, both for national security, and for economic competitiveness.

Revolutionary concept

Speaking on a panel during the Aerospace Global Forum at the Farnborough International Airshow, Sponable said: “We are developing a point-to-point transportation that is truly revolutionary.

“It does use space hardware but it is really just an inter-atmopshere flight vehicle that allows you to fly from point to point within the atmosphere.

“Perhaps more important than being able to fly anywhere within two hours on the planet is the fact that potentially it could be cheaper than subsonic jets, per cargo-tonne mile, and potentially it can actually have far fewer carbon emissions than subsonic jets burning Jet-A [fuel].”

Mach 10

Explaining the concept behind the aircraft, he added: “We’re basically a boost-glide flight vehicle. We take off vertically, boost to a very high altitude and then we cruise.

“The two ways we cruise is gravity … and also we supplement that with a little bit of rocket propulsion, and that lets us go huge distances. We can reach a velocity of Mach 10, we can fly over 150,000 feet … and we can fly 13,000km.”

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