Virgin Galactic has announced their renderings and designs for its proposed supersonic passenger jet. From commercial jets to suborbital rockets, CEO Richard Branson always seems like he has something new up his sleeve.
The proposed supersonic passenger jet will be able to reach Mach 3, or three times the speed of sound. Its top speed would reach 2,300 mph and fly at almost 60,000 feet. At that speed, you would be able to travel from London to New York in 2 hours, or about the same amount of time it would take you to drive from Denver to Vail on I-70 on a perfect, no traffic day.
The proposed jet is rumored to have room for only 9 to 19 passengers, and a ticket will most likely very expensive as Virgin Galactic had previously announced they would be developing suborbital space travel, at a cost of $250,000 a ticket.
The last time supersonic travel at a commercial level was offered was 2003, on an aircraft known as Concorde. While the Concorde traveled at Mach 2.04, Virgin Galactic’s aerospace arm known as The Spaceship Company (TSC), has partnered with Rolls Royce to develop a propulsion system capable of reaching Mach 3. However, the new aircraft is expected to fit into existing airport infrastructure and take off and land as a normal commercial passenger jet would.
While the renderings and designs are in process, the project is far from a certainty. Next up, Virgin Galactic will begin testing materials for the aircraft, work on reducing noise caused by sonic booms at Mach speeds, and develop cooling elements to ensure the aircraft can travel at supersonic for sustained periods. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will be involved in the process as well.
Virgin Galactic isn’t the only company aiming to break into the supersonic commercial jet game. Lockheed Martin and NASA, Boom Supersonic, and Spike Aerospace have all thrown their hats in the game to see who can push forward the Concorde’s legacy in supersonic travel.