This Hypersonic Plane Flys From New York To Tokyo In An Hour
Texas-based Venus Aerospace is working with rotating-detonation propulsion technology to turn the “Stargazer” from sci-concept to Mach-9 business jet that flies at 11110km/h.
Venus Aerospace is building a hypersonic aircraft that can carry about a dozen passengers, traveling at Mach 9, nine times the speed of sound. The Stargazer, which measures 46 metres long by 30 metres wide, will travel between two cities in the world, says the Houston-based company, by flying 11,110km/h at an altitude of 51,816 metres.
Hypersonic is defined as five times the speed of sound. By comparison, the last commercial supersonic jet, the Concorde, traveled at Mach 2, or about, 2470km/h. The fastest aircraft ever built, Lockheed’s SR-71 “Blackbird,” traveled at Mach 3.2 (3950km/h).
The rotating-detonation concept, which burns 20 percent less fuel than a conventional engine, is being promoted by the US Navy. This technology has been successfully tested before. But the Venus test was the first time using a room-temperature storable propellant, which will make the engine more viable for aircraft. “We now have both the technical knowledge and engineering to fully advance into next steps of development and flight testing,” said Duggleby.
The 68038kg. Stargazer will take off with conventional jet engines, but then transition to rockets once it reaches altitude. The route it will fly is not technically on the edge of space, or the Karman line, which is 100 kilometres above the Earth’s surface. But it will be high enough to see the planet’s curve and the blackness of space.
“This represents a key advancement towards real flying systems, both for defence applications and ultimately commercial high-speed travel,” said Jim Bridenstine, former NASA administrator and US Congressman, following the test.
Venus Aerospace has been working on the hypersonic aircraft concept since 2020, having raised $33 million to build the plane. The firm will now begin hypersonic flight testing with a 20-foot drone that the company hopes will reach Mach 5. After that, it will build the Stargazer prototype, though no date has been released.
The hypersonic business-jet concept is being pursued by other firms, including Sierra Space, which is building the “Dream Chaser,” and Atlanta-based Hermeus, which is working on a Mach 5 aircraft it calls the “Quarterhorse.” China’s Space Transportation, is developing a 12-passenger jet that can fly 7000km/h, to travel from, say, New York to Beijing in an hour.
Virgin Galactic eventually plans to use its supersonic aircraft to transport passengers between distant cities at Mach speeds. The company’s Unity 2 aircraft broke Concorde’s previous speed of Mach 2.02 in 2018 by reaching Mach 2.47.
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