Press Release

SpaceWorks® To Conduct Assessment of High-Speed Passenger Travel for NASA

By SpaceRef Editor
March 1, 2022
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 Is there a market for a 90-minute New York to London flight? Or will commercial passengers be as content with a 3.5-hour flight (half the time of current airplane travel)? NASA has tasked SpaceWorks Enterprises to find out through the award of a new contract to study and evaluate economic prospects for commercial high-speed passenger flight.

Under the new program, SpaceWorks’ Commercial Division will examine a range of potential aircraft configurations that are representative of the systems currently planned for development by the aerospace industry. This effort will consider such key design drivers as flight speed, operational range, passenger count, fuel type, ticket price, and fleet size. This work will leverage recent NASA investments in obtaining elastic market trends and identification of the most promising high-traffic routes between cities around the world.

“This is a great opportunity for us to continue to address some fundamental questions regarding the technical and economic viability of high-speed commercial air travel,” said Dr. John Olds, CEO of SpaceWorks. “Our prior work on point-to-point flight has quantified the sensitivity of the return-on-investment of these systems and underscored the need to ‘right-size’ the aircraft to capture specific markets. With this effort, our SpaceWorks Commercial team will investigate additional questions about the marketand help NASA to gain further understanding of the potential public benefits that might exist here.” 

SpaceWorks’ decades of experience in high-speed flight and hypersonics range from technical and business case studies for commercial companies and high net worth individuals to systems analysis work for next-generation Department of Defense hypersonic platforms. SpaceWorks has also developed its own hypersonic systems, including its RED-Data hypersonic materials research testbed, RED-25 on-demand payload return from space system, and the rocket-powered X-60 vehicle. In addition, SpaceWorks was the founding member of the FastForward Project, a pre-competitive industry group created to study issues associated with supersonic and hypersonic flight.

“Our experience has shown that when you look at this problem from a commercial perspective, a faster or bigger aircraft is not always better,” said Dr. John Bradford, CTO for SpaceWorks. “The challenge here is getting the capabilities of the aircraft right such that the economic return is maximized and design point is robust to external factors. Better and faster technology is cool, but the business case should drive the design.”

About SpaceWorks

SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc. (SEI), based in Atlanta, Georgia, specializes in leading edge space and flight product development, advanced aerospace concepts, systems engineering, software development, and economic consulting to enhance engineering design and analysis for a broad and diverse customer base. SpaceWorks is dedicated to advancing the state-of-the-art in the commercial space sector from early design phases to flight demonstration. For more information, please visit

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