How fast did the Concorde fly

Virgin Galactic is also working on a supersonic aircraft to succeed the Concorde

The space tourism company Virgin Galactic is working with the engine and jet engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce on a supersonic aircraft. It is supposed to be a futuristic miniature version of the legendary Concorde.

From Michael Förtsch

The space start-up Virgin Galactic, founded by the British billionaire Richard Branson, has been promising for years "soon" to bring the first tourists with a combination of carrier aircraft and rocket spaceship to the limit of space. Several test flights have already been successfully completed. But the first full flight with real passengers is still pending. Nevertheless, Virgin Galactic is already working on its next big project: The Spaceship Company, the subsidiary of Virigin Galactic, which is responsible for the development of aircraft and spacecraft, is researching a futuristic supersonic aircraft together with the engine and jet engine developer Rolls-Royce.

The project is still in an early design phase. However, it has already been shown that the idea is feasible, according to Virgin Galactic. The appearance of the still nameless aircraft is reminiscent of the legendary Concorde, which reached Mach 2.23 - around 2,750 kilometers per hour - but was decommissioned in 2003 after numerous problems. There has not been a supersonic passenger jet since then. The Virgin Galactic aircraft is said to reach three times the speed of sound at Mach 3 - and thus travel faster than the Concorde. The route Berlin-New York City could be done in just under two hours. However, the plane should also be significantly smaller than the model. Instead of around 100 people, it should only transport nine to 19 people at a height of up to 18,200 meters.

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In addition to Rolls-Royce, NASA is also involved in the project. The US space agency has signed a contract with Virigin Galactic, according to which both want to work together on "high speed technologies". In fact, NASA has been researching the future of supersonic flight with its Supersonic X-Plane for several years and is primarily trying to avoid the sonic boom that occurs when the sound barrier is broken. Because it can cause property damage and frighten animals. Therefore, the Concorde was only allowed to fly at supersonic speed above the ocean. A prototype of the Supersonic X-Plane could complete its first test flight as early as 2021.

Not the only supersonic aircraft

In addition to NASA and Virgin Galactic, others are also working on new supersonic planes. Six years ago, Boom was one of the first start-ups to announce that they would make a new era of supersonic flight possible. In 2025, it wants to bring a Mach 2.2 fast supersonic jet for up to 55 passengers to the market with the Boom Overture. Explosive: Of all the Virgin Group, to which Virgin Galactic belongs, is supposed to buy ten of the first copies. In addition, Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company are currently assisting with the conception and development of the aircraft and the construction of the prototype of the boom aircraft, dubbed the Baby Boom. It will be presented to the world on October 7th.

Spike Aerospace is also planning supersonic aircraft. However, the start-up initially wants to specialize in small jets for wealthy business customers. The same applies to the Aerion Corporation, which is working on two aircraft models with Lockheed Martin. Last year, the start-up Hermeus also announced that it would be entering the supersonic race. The company, founded by former Tesla engineers, wants to build a passenger machine that can do Mach 5 and thus cover the distance Berlin-New York City in just one hour. A prototype should start in four years. The aircraft manufacturer Charles Bombardier has one of the most ambitious plans. With the Skreemr, he wants to build a plane that reaches Mach 10 and is to be shot into the sky from a ramp with powerful electromagnets.

Teaser image: Virgin Galactic