The Virgin Galactic company is currently working on a supersonic aircraft intended for commercial flights. Developed in partnership with Rolls Royce, it has just been christened Mach 3.
A few days ago, Virgin Galactic presented us with the interior of its vessel which will allow passengers to float in space on suborbital voyages. In fact, the company’s founder, Richard Branson, is said to be launching the ship’s first official flight himself early next year.
A new supersonic aircraft
However, the company is now making headlines for a completely different project, announcing a preliminary partnership with Rolls Royce to build a supersonic airliner. This company, known for its luxury cars, had previously developed the turbojet that powered the famous Concorde.
The aircraft, the first images of which were released on Monday, will be able to accommodate between nine and nineteen passengers. Baptized Mach 3, it will be able, as its name suggests, to travel at approximately three times the speed of sound at an altitude of 18,000 meters. For comparison, the Concorde was able to fly at Mach 2.
In addition, the high-speed craft will normally be able to take off and land like any other passenger aircraft. It will be “able to integrate into existing airport infrastructure and international airspace around the world,” Virgin Galactic said in a statement.
Virgin Galactic and Rolls Royce will have to tackle the issues that a few years ago ultimately doomed the Concorde, including noise and fuel consumption. With this in mind, the two companies signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding to develop the reactor for the future aircraft.
“The team will notably work on the challenges represented by thermal management, maintenance, noise, emissions and economic issues associated with routine high-speed flights,” Virgin Galactic continued in its statement.
More supersonics soon on the market
Note that this aircraft is not the only one of its kind in development. Spike Aerospace and Boom Technology companies are particularly concerned. The latter should also present its famous XB-1 as of next October.
Meanwhile, NASA and Lockheed Martin have teamed up again to develop their X-59, a supersonic device that claims to be “ultra-quiet.” According to the American agency, the noise generated by this plane should indeed not exceed 75 decibels (the noise of a vacuum cleaner). Tests will be scheduled in 2022 over populated areas to prove it.