This morning, Richard Branson’s space tourism firm Virgin Galactic unveiled a design for a proposed supersonic aircraft. The company claims that the final version of the vehicle can carry nine to 19 passengers and reach Mach 3, or 3 times the speed of sound. But it only has room for 9-19 passengers.
Virgin Galactic’s core business is the space tourism business, which aims to send well-to-do customers to and from the fringes of space on their aircraft. But over the years, Virgin Galactic has also pledged its interest in using its space technology to develop high-speed travel from point A to point B. The concept involves the use of suborbital rockets to move people from one point of the Earth to another in much less time than usual. plane.
Recently, Virgin Galactic has begun looking at supersonic aircraft instead of suborbital missiles to get travelers where they want to go as quickly as possible. In May, the company announced it was receiving assistance from NASA to develop the company’s supersonic aircraft. NASA has decades of experience with supersonic vehicle technology and the agency is currently working on a “quiet” high Mach jet engine called the X-59 QueSST.
Along with the unveiling of new supersonic jet models, Virgin Galactic is announcing another partnership, this time with Rolls-Royce, to develop the engine needed for the aircraft. Both companies have signed an optional Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work together.
Virgin Galactic has outlined several details for the aircraft, noting that it will travel at an altitude of 18 km and that it “will help pave the way for the use of modern, sustainable aviation fuels.” However, many questions remain as to how long it will take to develop the aircraft, as well as how much it will all cost. With room for about a dozen passengers, it seems unlikely that ticket prices will be affordable for the middle class. For example, Virgin Galactic has a $ 250,000 ticket for its tourist spaceplane. The company says the supersonic jet can accommodate individual cabin plans, as well as business and first-class seating, indicating that the price could be dear.
Today’s announcement precedes Virgin Galactic’s quarterly earnings report, which is scheduled for a later day after the markets close.