Space tourism company Virgin Galactic has joined forces with Rolls-Royce, unveiling an aircraft design for a high speed commercial jet.
Virgin Galactic and Rolls-Royce have signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), collaborating together with the design and development of advanced engine propulsion technology.
This is believed to be an exciting step forward for Virgin Galactic’s development of a brand new generation of high speed aircraft, which will focus on factors such as customer experience and environmental sustainability.
Virgin Galactic has today, August 3, revealed the preliminary design for this supersonic jet, which will be able to fly up to 19 people; soaring through the skies at the speed of Mach 3 (2,300mph), at an altitude of over 60,000 feet
The Mission Concept Review (MCR), which includes representatives from NASA, concluded the team can now progress to the next phase of design. This will involve defining specific system architectures and configurations; determining which materials to use during design and manufacturing.
The team will also address key challenges such as thermal management, maintenance, noise, emissions, and economics associated with routine high speed commercial flights.
George Whitesides, Chief Space Officer, Virgin Galactic said:
We are excited to complete the Mission Concept Review and unveil this initial design concept of a high speed aircraft, which we envision as blending safe and reliable commercial travel with an unrivalled customer experience.
We are pleased to collaborate with the innovative team at Rolls-Royce as 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.
We have made great progress so far, and we look forward to opening up a new frontier in high speed travel.
Rolls-Royce North America Chairman & CEO Tom Bell said:
We are excited to partner with Virgin Galactic and TSC to explore the future of sustainable high speed flight.
Rolls-Royce brings a unique history in high speed propulsion, going back to the Concorde, and offers world-class technical capabilities to develop and field the advanced propulsion systems needed to power commercially available high-Mach travel.
The design is still in the very early stages of development, and even with very fast development it will still be years before the plane can actually fly.
However, once it’s up and running, this could be a very lucrative endeavour indeed, with a Virgin Galactic executive having previously told high-speed passenger travel could make for a $15 billion annual business for the company.