Virgin Galactic uses space tech to create new supersonic jet

The space tourism company Virgin Galactic teams up with Rolls Royce to create a new Mach 3 supersonic aircraft.

concept plane flying above clouds

New supersonic aircraft from Virgin Galactic.

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.

Virgin Galactic made the hearts of all speed enthusiasts beat faster by announcing a new agreement with Rolls-Royce to create a supersonic passenger jet.

The space tourism company founded by billionaire Richard Branson 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.

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.

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.

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.

Virgin Galactic's chief space officer George Whitesides was bullish on the company's achievement:

"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.

jet rendering

Credit: Virgin Galactic

The company has also made great strides in the development of its spacecraft. Check out the recently-released interior of its SpaceShipTwo Unity cabin:

Virgin Galactic Spaceship Cabin Design Reveal

There are 5 eras in the universe's lifecycle. Right now, we're in the second era.

Astronomers find these five chapters to be a handy way of conceiving the universe's incredibly long lifespan.

Image based on logarithmic maps of the Universe put together by Princeton University researchers, and images produced by NASA based on observations made by their telescopes and roving spacecraft

Image source: Pablo Carlos Budassi
Surprising Science
  • We're in the middle, or thereabouts, of the universe's Stelliferous era.
  • If you think there's a lot going on out there now, the first era's drama makes things these days look pretty calm.
  • Scientists attempt to understand the past and present by bringing together the last couple of centuries' major schools of thought.
Keep reading Show less

Dark energy: The apocalyptic wild card of the universe

Dr. Katie Mack explains what dark energy is and two ways it could one day destroy the universe.

Videos
  • The universe is expanding faster and faster. Whether this acceleration will end in a Big Rip or will reverse and contract into a Big Crunch is not yet understood, and neither is the invisible force causing that expansion: dark energy.
  • Physicist Dr. Katie Mack explains the difference between dark matter, dark energy, and phantom dark energy, and shares what scientists think the mysterious force is, its effect on space, and how, billions of years from now, it could cause peak cosmic destruction.
  • The Big Rip seems more probable than a Big Crunch at this point in time, but scientists still have much to learn before they can determine the ultimate fate of the universe. "If we figure out what [dark energy is] doing, if we figure out what it's made of, how it's going to change in the future, then we will have a much better idea for how the universe will end," says Mack.
Keep reading Show less

Astrophysicists find unique "hot Jupiter" planet without clouds

A unique exoplanet without clouds or haze was found by astrophysicists from Harvard and Smithsonian.

Illustration of WASP-62b, the Jupiter-like planet without clouds or haze in its atmosphere.

Credit: M. Weiss/Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian
Surprising Science
  • Astronomers from Harvard and Smithsonian find a very rare "hot Jupiter" exoplanet without clouds or haze.
  • Such planets were formed differently from others and offer unique research opportunities.
  • Only one other such exoplanet was found previously.
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast