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Virgin Galactic unveils Mach 3 design for supersonic passenger flights

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Virgin Galactic has partnered with Rolls Royce to develop a Mach 3 supersonic passenger jet.

Virgin Galactic announced today (Aug. 3) that they will work with Rolls Royce to create a high-speed aircraft. (Image credit: Virgin Galactic)
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Virgin Galactic has partnered with Rolls Royce to develop a Mach 3 supersonic passenger jet.

The supersonic passenger jet will be capable of traveling Mach 3 for high-speed passenger transportation. (Image credit: Virgin Galactic)
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Virgin Galactic has partnered with Rolls Royce to develop a Mach 3 supersonic passenger jet.

Virgin Galactic's supersonic transport design will carry between nine and 19 people and fly at an altitude above 60,000 feet. (Image credit: Virgin Galactic)
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Virgin Galactic has partnered with Rolls Royce to develop a Mach 3 supersonic passenger jet.

The interior cabin of the plan will be incorporate different layouts for Business or First Class seating arrangements. (Image credit: Virgin Galactic)
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Virgin Galactic has partnered with Rolls Royce to develop a Mach 3 supersonic passenger jet.

The design is aimed at "making high speed travel practical, sustainable, safe, and reliable" while also serving a customer experience. (Image credit: Virgin Galactic)
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Virgin Galactic has partnered with Rolls Royce to develop a Mach 3 supersonic passenger jet.

Virgin Galactic's concept for the supersonic plane calls for a design that can fly from existing airports and through international airspace around the world. (Image credit: Virgin Galactic)

The private spaceflight company Virgin Galactic and Rolls-Royce have teamed up to create a supersonic jet for high-speed passenger flights.  

The Spaceship Company (TSC), Virgin Galactic's aerospace-system manufacturing arm that builds the company's SpaceShipTwo space planes, is now working to develop a high-speed commercial aircraft capable of flying at Mach 3, or three times the speed of sound.

Today (Aug. 3), TSC announced the completion of a mission concept review and unveiled the initial design concept for a high-speed aircraft. They also announced that they have signed a memorandum of understanding with Rolls-Royce to collaborate in design and development for the craft. 

Rolls-Royce might seem like an odd choice, but the company, known for its luxury cars, previously developed the turbojet that powered the famed supersonic airliner the Concorde, which flew at Mach 2.04, or just over twice the speed of sound. 

Related: Photos: Amazing X-planes from the X-1 to XV-15

Concorde certainly isn't the only commercial supersonic jet for TSC's ambitious aircraft to contend with. 

Boom Technology, which partnered with Virgin Galactic in 2017, has been developing the XB-1, their supersonic vehicle, set to debut Oct. 7. Spike Aerospace is also developing a supersonic business jet. Meanwhile, NASA and Lockheed Martin are developing the X-59 X-plane, a supersonic jet aimed at quieting sonic booms. All these projects follow in the high-speed footsteps of the Concorde, which flew from 1969 to 2003, the Soviet supersonic passenger airliner Tupolev Tu-144 flew from 1968 to 1999. 

TSC hopes that their vehicle will be a Mach 3 certified aircraft with delta-shaped wings able to seat between 9 and 19 passengers at a time and fly at an altitude above 60,000 feet (18,300 meters). The company also aims to have a variety of seating options, including business or first class. The high-speed craft would "would take off and land like any other passenger aircraft and be expected to integrate into existing airport infrastructure and international airspace around the world," Virgin Galactic announced in a statement today

With the mission concept review complete, TSC can now progress to the next design phase, according to the statement. 

"We strive to develop sustainable, cutting-edge propulsion systems for the aircraft, and we are pleased to be working with the FAA to ensure our designs can make a practical impact from the start," Virgin Galactic Chief Space Officer George Whitesides said in the statement. "We have made great progress so far, and we look forward to opening up a new frontier in high-speed travel."

Email Chelsea Gohd at cgohd@space.com or follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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  • joebedford
    Reply
  • kristianna276
    This super sonic will change the course of avionics for centuries to come. This plane can transport 9 to 16 passengers at a time at Mach 3. Be still my beating heart. These high flying, obviously super rich passengers, can fly above the stink of us commoners. They can whisk to and thro from one international airport to another, and not have to do it First Class. This is truly the lap of luxury. Almost like having your own private jet. From flying to suborbital journeys around the planet, to flying at 3 times the speed of sound; what other luxuries will the rich truly need? They are proclaiming the birth of the ultra rich, who will be the first Trillionaire? How many poor people does it take to make a Trillionaire? Wealth and poverty goes hand in hand, one can not exist without the other. The more wealth is on one side has; the less wealth there is on the other.
    Reply
  • Darkforce
    kristianna276 said:
    This super sonic will change the course of avionics for centuries to come. This plane can transport 9 to 16 passengers at a time at Mach 3. Be still my beating heart. These high flying, obviously super rich passengers, can fly above the stink of us commoners. They can whisk to and thro from one international airport to another, and not have to do it First Class. This is truly the lap of luxury. Almost like having your own private jet. From flying to suborbital journeys around the planet, to flying at 3 times the speed of sound; what other luxuries will the rich truly need? They are proclaiming the birth of the ultra rich, who will be the first Trillionaire? How many poor people does it take to make a Trillionaire? Wealth and poverty goes hand in hand, one can not exist without the other. The more wealth is on one side has; the less wealth there is on the other.
    This is simple not true. the rich create job for the job ... if the poor did not have any job .. they would be must poorer. there are no real limet to how rich people can be .. if you invest your money in apple in sted of buy their iPhone then you will be must richer in the first place
    Reply
  • kristianna276
    Darkforce said:
    This is simple not true. the rich create job for the job ... if the poor did not have any job .. they would be must poorer. there are no real limet to how rich people can be .. if you invest your money in apple in sted of buy their iPhone then you will be must richer in the first place
    Would you agree that slavery was a good thing because it gave Africans a job to do. It was Adam Smith, the 18th century Economist that asked the question of how many poor people does it take to make a millionaire. There is only so much wealth that is created by humanity, and the bulk of i t either gravitates to one pole or the other. When the Steel industry shut down production here in the US, they opened it up for cheap labor countries to maximize profits . This also created increased homelessness and rising poverty in this country. I know that the common conception of the homeless is that they don't wanna work, many are homeless because they don't make enough to feed, cloths and shelter their families from the low wages they work for. When the rich get greedy, the workers remain needy. If the poor did not have jobs, they would be poorer? I think you meant much poorer. Although there are many who are living in shelters and live out on the streets. There are many who go hungry with not enough to eat. There are many families with no roof over their heads. There are those who only have a iPhone , and there are many who only have a government issued phone. Are they much richer than those who live without? Are you a rich man's son? Someone said, Sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt. I don't know but I've been told. I sold my soul to the company store.
    Reply
  • ICP
    "Rolls-Royce might seem like an odd choice, but the company, known for its luxury cars, previously developed the turbojet that powered the famed supersonic airliner the Concorde, which flew at Mach 2.04, or just over twice the speed of sound. "

    Rolls Royce is hardly an odd coice at all. Note that Rolls Royce Motors were spun off as a separate company in 1971. Rolls Royce made their first aero engine in 1914. In 1944 they developed the first aero gas turbine (in parallel with the Germans). They also made the engines for the Tristar, the somewhat infamous RB-211, Concorde and A380 engines too.
    Reply