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The space tourism company Virgin Galactic teams up with Rolls Royce to create a new Mach 3 supersonic aircraft.
04 August, 2020
Credit: Virgin Galactic
- Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic has announced a partnership with Rolls Royce.
- The space tourism company will create a new supersonic jet for super-fast travel on Earth.
- The aircraft will travel at Mach 3 – three times the speed of sound.
<p>Virgin Galactic made the hearts of all speed enthusiasts beat faster by <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/03/virgin-galactics-early-supersonic-aircraft-design-partnering-with-rolls-royce.html" target="_blank">announcing a new agreement</a> with Rolls-Royce to create a supersonic passenger jet.</p><p>The space tourism company founded by billionaire <a href="https://bigthink.com/u/richardbranson" target="_blank">Richard Branson</a> revealed an enticing look at the aircraft's design, which would not be taking people to the edge of space but between points on Earth. The move allows the company to leverage its space technology for super-fast travel across the planet. Crucially, the craft would utilize sustainable, next-generation fuel.</p><p>The concept for the supersonic jet, which can potentially disrupt commercial airline travel, has undergone a NASA review. Next, the company is planning to work with the FAA to create a framework for certifying the new aircraft for flight. </p>
<p>Virgin's Galactic's partner in this venture, the British company Rolls-Royce, is, of course, no stranger to supersonic aircraft-making, having built engines for the famous Concordes.</p><p>The first aircraft built will be targeted the speed of Mach 3, which is three times the speed of sound. In other words – a blazing 2300 mph. The plane will be able to carry from 9 to 19 people, cruising at an altitude of over 60,000 feet.</p><p>Virgin Galactic's chief space officer George Whitesides was bullish on the company's achievement:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We have made great progress so far, and we look forward to opening up a new frontier in high speed travel," he said in a statement.</p>
<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUzMTYzMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NzUzMTY5MX0.urCCKO2cZVFdYvvclbVCpHRpDcQUcPmIEqvEuKHjIKw/img.jpg?width=980" id="ff710" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cf70b9c2a00580f353d152a36d4d2b1e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="jet rendering" />
Credit: Virgin Galactic
<p>The company has also made great strides in the development of its spacecraft. Check out the recently-released interior of its SpaceShipTwo Unity cabin:</p>
Virgin Galactic Spaceship Cabin Design Reveal<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ddd43e235d02118d76558a106aa99361"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/LC286Dnq4M4?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
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A new study predicts air-travel turbulence may occur over larger areas thanks to climate change.
12 April, 2017
Image source: Atstock Productions/Shutterstock
<p class="p1">When your plane hits turbulence, it can be pretty scary — although it's not as likely to cause a crash as it may seem at that moment. Severe turbulence is dangerous for injuries incurred as passengers are tossed about the cabin, but beyond that, it's more unnerving than anything. Now a <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00376-017-6268-2#enumeration" target="_blank">new study</a> published in <em>Advances In Atmospheric Sciences</em> by atmospheric scientist <a href="http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v3/n7/fig_tab/nclimate1866_F3.html#auth-1" target="_blank">Paul Williams</a> of Reading, PA, suggests things may be about to get much worse on winter flights along at least one travel route — the one that crosses the North Atlantic between North America and Europe — thanks to climate change.</p> <p>Williams' forecasts are based on the expectation that CO2 levels will continue rising at the rate they have so far, and his predictions describe what he foresees as conditions we should expect by the middle of this century. He finds that the areas along the route prone to turbulence are about to grow in size, with increases varying by the severity of the turbulence.</p> <p class="p1">Areas that currently experience:</p> <p class="p1">• <em>severe turbulence</em> are likely to expand by 149%, although he admits it could really be anywhere from a 30% increase to a 188% increase.</p> <p class="p1">• <em>moderate-to-severe turbulence</em> will grow by 129%.</p> <p class="p1">• <em>moderate turbulence</em> will grow by 94%.</p> <p class="p1">• <em>light-to-moderate turbulence</em> will grow by 75%.</p> <p class="p1">• <em>light turbulence</em> will grow by an average of 59%.</p> <p class="p1">This is the second study by Williams, following up on a 2013 study published in the <a href="http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v3/n7/fig_tab/nclimate1866_F3.html" target="_blank"><em>Journal Nature Climate Change</em></a> by Williams and <a href="http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v3/n7/fig_tab/nclimate1866_F3.html#auth-2" target="_blank">Manoj M. Joshi</a> of the University of East Anglia. That earlier study looked only at moderate-to-severe turbulence.</p> <p class="p1">21 different wind-related indicators related to turbulence were examined in the new study, including wind speed, and change in the direction of air flow.</p> <p class="p1">Williams' chose to focus on the North Atlantic because it's a highly traveled route, and specifically on winter turbulence because that's when the phenomenon is most prevalent.</p> <p class="p1 shortcode-media shortcode-media-rebelmouse-image"><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODMzOTE2Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNDQ4NjYwOH0.5SfCCz7ZiMZZTrM_cCyd80r2bpAS4QqNNsRs7uYq4C8/img.jpg?width=980" id="b2f99" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d3867dd1525e21b6b683dd063c32bc9f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"><br><span style="color: #737d83; font-size: 13px;">(CBC)</span></p> <p>It's not at all clear if Williams' predictions for the North Atlantic apply to other areas of turbulence around the globe. According to an email sent by <a href="http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/staff/islas/" target="_blank">Isla Simpson</a>, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, to the <a href="http://www.bendbulletin.com/nation/5214806-151/fasten-your-seat-belts-climate-change-could-add" target="_blank"><em>Washington Post</em></a>, “Regional variations of this increase may be quite uncertain, particularly in the higher latitudes where other aspects of circulation change that are less well understood and more model-dependent may dominate."</p> <p class="p1">Williams points out that, although it may occur over a larger area, severe turbulence would still be pretty rare, and weather forecasting algorithms already give pilots a heads-up on choppy air. Even so, any increase in turbulence can be tough on planes, and pilots may need to burn more fuel flying around it.</p> <p class="p1">Predicting atmospheric patterns is dicey at best, and the full effects of climate change on air travel aren't at all clear. Much of what happens will depend on the behavior of large-scale atmospheric currents on the atmospheric slopes from the equator to the poles.</p> <p class="p1 shortcode-media shortcode-media-rebelmouse-image"><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODMzOTE2Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMTgwOTA4N30.dYK1e4WNRYFd6eHR9syd_jsLePuZN8MTaeCciKMVSd0/img.jpg?width=980" id="880d4" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c1fc4f9a83536a5453ddcde39b0a57dd" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"></p> <p class="p2"><span style="color: #737d83; font-size: 13px;">(UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN)</span></p> <p>Scientists are already seeing changes, though — for example, there's no agreement on whether atmospheric currents are getting stronger or weaker. In any event, Simpson told the <em>Post</em> that scientists are getting more certain about changes “that we expect to happen higher up, near the altitude where planes fly."</p>
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airplane flight turbulence climate change atmospheric currents jet stream winds air travel weather systems