Virgin Galactic Joins Contenders for Supersonic Passenger Jets

Virgin Galactic has released first-stage designs of mach 3 passenger jet that would hold 19 passengers and fly at an altitude above 60,000 feet. British engine maker Rolls-Royce has signed on as a partner. Rolls-Royce made the engine for the supersonic concorde.

There are other companies working on supersonic business jets and passenger jets.

Nextbigfuture believes that SpaceX will leapfrog supersonic passenger jets with hypersonic reusable passenger rockets. The SpaceX Starship would be able to fly single stage up to a range of 6000-8000 miles at about mach 20.

The Boom XB-1 Baby Boom one-third-scale demonstrator is expected to begin flight testing in 2021. This was originally scheduled for 2019. The actual passenger-carrying Overture will be delayed from 2023 to the mid-2020s. It will have a first flight and a two-year test series with six aircraft. It will be able to fly from San Francisco-Tokyo in 5h 30m and Tokyo-Hong Kong in 2h.

The Overture will have 55-75 business-class seats, with a crew of six, including two pilots.

Aerion is planning to build supersonic passenger jets at a factory near Cape Canaveral, Fla., with the first planes built in 2023 and testing to begin in 2024. The 8–12 passenger AS2 supersonic business jet is now expected in 2024 and entry into service in 2026.

Spike Aerospace is also a supersonic passenger jet contender.

31 thoughts on “Virgin Galactic Joins Contenders for Supersonic Passenger Jets”

  1. Concorde by the way, I think was a stupid design. No need for the tilt nose, jut put windows in the floor as well. That would have saved weight, complexity, and cost. And they should have made it 2 stories, even though no wider. You can carry twice as may passengers and lots get window seats making them happier.

  2. The elite already get to do a lot of environmental damage. Shooting African wildlife. Shooting American wildlife. Cutting down the Amazon for fine flooring and woodwork for their yachts… 
    The only way I would allow it is if they replaced all the ozone their jets destroy. And, of course, no booms over populated areas. That second part is already in place. But concern for the public was not the main reason, in my opinion. It was that the US did not make the Concorde. What better way to limit the invasion of our aircraft markets than to tie Concorde’s shoelaces together? As such, there will be a push, if we made these things, to permit supersonic flyover. After all, the rich have to get to Monaco, or Paris in 3 hours or their makeup may run, when they hit the dance floors in the discotechs, and we can’t have that.
    Anyone can tell you I am certainly not against technology. I just am for technology for everyone…and done efficiently.
    Elon’s rockets could move 1,000 people at a time. That means it is possible to have a price not too dissimilar from the ordinary airlines. I think Mach 20 is silly. No need for that. 3,000 mph is just fine and tickets could be half the price or less than at “ludicrous speed”, because you won’t need anywhere near as much fuel. However, I think there are other forms of transport that are just as interesting for crossing oceans. Very large Ekranoplans for example could move large numbers of people cheaply.

  3. There are a lot of claims (not in this article) that more advanced shaping of the aircraft results in a much weaker and softer “boom” which combines with much higher altitude to produce negligible noise at ground level.

  4. Just reminder that we are discussing Musk, not VG. Musk has already set a *prize* contract for more Nickel, environmentally processed. This environment aid would be aggressively true of ISRU (In Space Resource Use) Nickel, not just in the specific need, but in opening ISRU for all Earth mining eventual stoppage. Start by bringing the asteroid bits down, instead of digging stuff up here. Then do some basic smelting and separation in Space, on and on. Things are not going to get easier on Earth!!!

  5. Aerospace science has advanced a long way since Concorde was designed – I would be extremely surprised if they had not fixed the problem by now.

    Not to mention that they probably would not be exceeding mach 1 at a height where the sonic boom would be likely to bother many people – that is the main problem with air flight noise, proximity to the ground and inhabited areas therein being the origin of complaints which give both airports and airlines bad PR.

  6. Indeed, astronauts have to endure training to make sure that they can withstand the G’s prior to any mission.

  7. Doesn’t 3d printing allow you to make lighter structures by micropatterning air pockets in the material?

    I wonder if SpaceX might employ this method in Starship / Super Heavy construction.

  8. Mining in space or low gravity is easier said than done, we’ve still to get basic samples back to Earth from a NASA mission to a extraterrestial body – let alone tonnes of metal/metal ore.

  9. Particularly if they won’t fit 20 passengers, the economies of scale don’t look all that great to me.

  10. SABRE can fly at mach 5, which is actually important as you can avoid the “sonic boom over populated areas” problem by just flying over the oceans at this higher speed. For instance on a London to LA flight, rather than flying supersonic over the atlantic then subsonic over the US, you would fly at mach 5 over the north pole and then down across the pacific to LA.

    Whether any of these engines/aircraft can fly any routes economically is a big unanswered question?

  11. Titanium has about half the modulus of steel, but also half the density. So you have a wall twice as thick but the same mass.
    On the other hand, thin sheet structures usually fail via buckling. And making your wall twice as thick greatly increases the resistance to buckle. So you don’t need the same mass of sheet titanium to resist the same buckling forces.

    On the gripping hand, SpaceX failures so far have included a bunch of welding issues. And welding is DEFINITELY a lot harder to get right with Titanium. So they’d be improving their buckling resistance (which is OK anyway) in exchange for making it much more difficult to do the one thing they are having trouble with.

  12. Titanium has advantages and disadvantages. (Lower modulus than steel, for instance.) Cost is absolutely not one of the advantages.

    I suppose once they’ve got the stainless steel version flying, they could start a project to see if titanium was worth it.

  13. What if Starship where made of heat resistant tianium alloy instead of stainless steel, weighing approx 30% less…

  14. Musk and the work he’s doing but I can’t see how average people would be able to cope with the g forces of rocket travel

  15. Speaking of booms, what is their solution to the problem that crippled sales of the Concorde? Or will they peruse the limited production luxury play that saved the Concorde.

  16. Now that everyone wants a separate air supply and self contained environment suit every time they get on an aircraft, one of the concerns with high altitude supersonic transport has disappeared.

  17. Rolls Royce… BAe seemed to think REL SABRE heat exchanger tech might be applicable to mach 2-3 fighter aircraft, so the same might be implied for this?

Comments are closed.