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Commercial spaceflight companies are preparing to enter a new market: suborbital flights from one place to another on Earth. Aiming for fast transportation for passengers and cargo, these systems are being developed by a combination of established companies, such as SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, and new ones like Astra.

Technical and business challenges lie ahead for this new frontier, and an important piece is the coming wave of supersonic aircraft which could offer safer but slower alternatives to spaceflight. These two different approaches could face off in the 2020s to be the future of transportation on Earth.

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