Broadcast 1273 (Special Edition)

The Space Foundation Conference

11 Dec 2009 Dr. John Olds
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Guest: Dr. John Olds. Topic: Point to Pont space transportation. Dr. John Olds, Executive Director of the FastForward Study Group, was our guest today to talk about point to point space travel or high altitude and very fast transportation. In our first segment, Dr. Olds defined point to point high speed transportation. He talked about being able to go west, not just east, about using Great Circle Routes, and various city pairs that his group has been studying. We also talked about ballistic trajectories as well as partial and orbital trajectories and going west from the Northern Hemisphere. Toward the end of this segment, a listener inquired about the Blackswift project that was cancelled. Dr. Olds further commented that the NASA focus has clearly moved to human spaceflight, but that the Air Force was still working on some projects, including X-51. As we ended this segment, our guest pointed out the new commercial push, including a push for the RLV which would be a very positive addition to point to point high speed space transportation. In our second segment, we talked about the supersonic business jets under development, how they minimize the sonic boom, their problems, speeds, and the regulatory environment that today would prevent these vehicles from flying across the United States and other areas. Dr. Olds explained some of the differences in flying supersonic, exoatmospheric and through space, ballistic and orbital. The FastForward group is looking at the various technologies and regulations that exist and would need to be modified to facilitate point to point high speed travel. In our third segment, we continued talking about supersonic business jets and learned that their estimated cost was between $80 and $100 million. The estimated cost for a hypersonic was $325 million. Development costs for the SST biz jet was around $2 billion while for the hypersonic, the development cost was estimated at $5 billion. Wealth building and job creation came into the picture given development of these projects have the potential to include public money or a public private partnership. Later in the segment, Dr. Olds suggested a commercial transportation ticket might cost upwards of $6,000 and for sending a package on one of these vehicles for same day or really quick delivery, it might be as much as $800/kg. Dr. Olds talked about the need for an arms length market study to confirm the existence of commercial markets in these areas. A listener asked about competition from video conferencing and we talked about the market for the need for face to face meetings. As we moved into the fourth and final segment, Dr. Olds pointed us to the FastForward website, Make sure you read the White Paper entitled, "Getting Faster," Once on their website, you will see many other reports and documents that are available and that you will find interesting. Dr. John Olds talked about debris patterns and fields for various spaceports and again stressed the need for a market study. Toward the end of the program, he talked about ITAR issues and customs requirements that probably need modification upon landing in another country. If you have a question or comment for Dr. John Olds, please contact him at



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