Hopping the pond is about to get a lot quicker.
A new supersonic jet that some are calling “Son of the Concorde” could fly from New York to London in three hours, and may be used to transport commercial airline passengers sooner than you think.
The NASA creation, officially called a Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator (LBFD), can break the sound barrier without creating the deafening sonic boom of previous models, therefore making it a serious contender for use in commercial flights — something that hasn’t happened since the Concorde was grounded in 2003.
The speed of sound is 767 mph. The goal of the LBFD is to fly at 1,074 mph.
While the technology previously existed and NASA has already been testing a preliminary design called the Quiet Supersonic Transport, or QueSST, the U.S. government’s recently approved 2019 budget includes full funding for the experimental plane. If all goes to plan, it will make its first test run in 2021. Potential commercial flights would follow.
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The project “would open a new market for U.S. companies to build faster commercial airliners, creating jobs and cutting cross-country flight times in half,” according to the White House Budget, which also increases funding for “research on flight at speeds more than five times the speed of sound, commonly referred to as hypersonics,” used for spacecrafts and national defense applications.
A few other companies, including Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, are working on similar projects. Virgin’s proposed plane would travel at twice the speed of sound, or 1,451 mph.