"How do we bring the principles and practices of the aeronautics sector to space transportation? We hope it can become a commercial entity in itself... One way is to bring to bear what we know about airline-like operations. That's where we have to focus our efforts with reusable launch systems" he said.
However, Christiansen did not make the point that airlines' phenomenal success in cost reduction has been achieved through handling huge numbers of flights, and that this is possible only because they've discovered a huge market - people. This is vitally important because there is no other large market for space transportation.
Consequently, if space transportation systems are to achieve the benefits of airline-like operations, they must carry passengers. You cannot achieve "airline-like operations" making one flight per week or so, however much new technology you develop!
Unfortunately, the ending of the article reveals one reason for this blockage that prevents NASA acknowledging this, even though it's what the public want. After describing the technology research that NASA is doing, Christiansen says that it is also planning an "...all-encompassing (sic) space transportation architecture study to determine what is the right mix of launch vehicles for NASA's future." That is, NASA is looking only at its own needs for space transportation.
Interestingly, ProSpace, a lobbying organization that supports space commercialization, recently organized a special lobbying effort to kill the $20 million planned for this "Civilian Space Transportation Investment Study". Charles Miller, ProSpace chairman described it as "pork-barrel at its worst ...to give Boeing and Lockheed Martin $20 million... Where are Kistler, Kelly, Pioneer, Rotary, Beal, Space Access and all the other new companies? Where are these new American heroes who are creating a revolution in space transportation right under our feet? I'll tell you where they are. Totally left out of the picture."
Two things need to be made clear:
1) A study of space transportation that considers only NASA's needs is not "all-encompassing". It doesn't represent even 1% of the potential demand for space travel - as explained in NASA's own study General Public Space Travel and Tourism!
2) It's only by serving the passenger market that space transportation can achieve "airline-like operations". Any study that ignores this is worthless.