Virgin Galactic’s plans for future travel won’t be limited to its new tourist spacecraft unveiled a few days ago. The aerospace manufacturer, in collaboration with Rolls-Royce preparing a new commercial supersonic worthy successor to the now legendary Boeing Concorde. Mach 3 is the provisional name it has and, in case it isn’t obvious, its top speed is expected to be Mach 3.
It’s hard to achieve the “nostalgic beauty” the Concorde conjures up, but the supersonic Virgin Galactic aircraft will reach Concorde speed and exceed it too, if all goes as planned. While the Concorde reached a maximum of Mach 2.04 (around 2,500 km / h), Virgin Galactic hopes to reach Mach 3 (around 3600 km / h).
According to the company, the aircraft will be designed to have between 9 and 12 seats for passengers, depending on the configuration. Very far from the 128 passengers that the Concorde accommodated in its time. This drastic reduction is likely to have a direct effect on ticket prices, making stealing the Mach 3 from Virgin Galactic the honor of only a few who can afford it.
The feat of building a supersonic
We still have a long way to go to see this plane take off. The prototype design has just passed the NASA Mission Concept Reviews. Now it’s the job of Virgin Galactic and Rolls-Royce to make this happen beyond computer design. It must also be made to fly up to Mach 3 and, above all, not to explode in the feat. Other challenges ahead are how to deal with the noise generated by a supersonic, the right materials to withstand high stress and high temperatures, or something as simple as finding a way to make an airplane that consumes so much of resources is cost effective.
The last points mentioned are largely those which ended the life of the Concorde as an operational aircraft. The enormous noise it generated at Mach 2 only made it reach this speed when it flew over oceans and seas far from populations. In addition high ticket prices It didn’t help me to keep doing routes.
From Virgin Galactic, they hope that the technologies developed for this aircraft can be also useful for other commercial aircraft in the future. In fact, the plane is part of a deal they made with NASA to create air travel options that exceed current speeds for commercial flights.
Another similar project is that of the Australian and British Space Agency, which seeks to create a supersonic capable of traveling from London to Sydney in four hours. NASA’s extremely sharp supersonic should also be mentioned.
Source : Engadget