Virgin Galactic reveals supersonic jet project

04 Aug 2020

Virgin Galactic has unveiled designs for a supersonic passenger aircraft able to fly at three times the speed of sound.

Reaching around 2,300mph, the high-speed aircraft could travel from London to Sydney in five hours, or to New York in under two hours, reports Sky News.

Virgin Galactic announced that Richard Branson’s The Spaceship Company – an arm of Virgin Galactic – has penned a deal with Rolls Royce to work on the project, which remains in the early stages.

The Mach 3 certified delta-wing jet could fly at an altitude of 60,000 feet, but only have sufficient room for nine to 19 passengers.

George Whitesides, Chief Space Officer at Virgin Galactic said, “We are excited to complete the Mission Concept Review and unveil this initial design concept of a high speed aircraft, which we envision as blending safe and reliable commercial travel with an unrivalled customer experience. 

“We are pleased to collaborate with the innovative team at Rolls-Royce as we strive to develop sustainable, cutting-edge propulsion systems for the aircraft, and we are pleased to be working with the FAA to ensure our designs can make a practical impact from the start. We have made great progress so far, and we look forward to opening up a new frontier in high speed travel.”

Rolls-Royce North America Chairman & CEO Tom Bell commented: “We are excited to partner with Virgin Galactic and TSC to explore the future of sustainable high-speed flight. Rolls-Royce brings a unique history in high speed propulsion, going back to the Concorde, and offers world-class technical capabilities to develop and field the advanced propulsion systems needed to power commercially available high-Mach travel.”

Virgin Galactic added that the Mach 3 aircraft would concentrate on current long-distance commercial routes, with take-off and landing at existing airports.

The subsequent phase of the project will be focused on the materials to be utilised, how to minimise noise and emissions and ways to keep the jet cool during supersonic flight.

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