Boom – The Supersonic Startup Gets Support From Virgin

When you think of startups, you often think of a small group of people working on a new gadget or maybe a new piece of software. Boom is a little different, the startup looks to create the world’s fastest passenger plane.

Boom looks to create a plane that will go supersonic at speeds of around 2.2 times the speed of sound. Compared to traditional airlines, which travel at Mach 0.85, Boom would outshine them at every turn and even the Concord traveled at only Mach 2.0. This would mean that Boom’s passenger jet would offer travel times of 3.5 hours from New York to London and only 4.5 hours for San Fransisco to Tokyo.

While the project is in its early stages the company looks strong with its 11 employees contributing on 787’s, fighter jets and spaceships. The project just gets bigger and bigger with Virgin Group optioning ten planes in a deal that comes in at around $2 billion. This isn’t their biggest contract, with another group (who choose to remain unnamed) optioning 15 at an amazing $5 billion.

This doesn’t mean they’ve been bought, but instead that once the plans and designs for the planes are in full swing, they will purchase them. It is a letter of intent meant to show their interest, something that relies heavily on the results of Boom successfully designing, creating and testing a successful supersonic jet.

The deal gets only sweeter with The Spaceship Company, Virgin Galactic’s space division, offering to help build and test the planes. With big names like that backing and supporting your group, our eyes are open to the possibility of quick flights around the world at supersonic speeds in the not too distant future.

NASA Develop Sonic Boom Monitoring Probe

NASA are fully invested in the development of craft that is capable of achieving supersonic speeds in a way more subtle than the typical sonic boom. Having already invested $20 million in a prototype X-plane designed by Lockheed Martin, now NASA has a better way of gathering data that may make the development of quiet supersonic aircraft much easier, the Eagle Aero Probe.

Previously, the pressure sensors mounted on F-15 aircraft used to monitor sonic booms were located 15-feet away, on the aircraft’s radome, which caused a problematic delay in measuring the shockwave generated by breaking the sound barrier. Developed by Eagle Aeronautics of Hampton, Virginia, this new probe should alleviate this issue by measuring the shockwave far closer to the pressure ports located on the nose cone of the aircraft.

The probe is capable of both obtaining air data measurements from the underside of the F-15B, as well as measuring the strength of the shockwave generated from a currently unspecified part of the F-15B. Currently, the probe is attached to the F-15B’s test fixture directly underneath the fuselage in order to draw comparisons with the traditional NACA probe affixed to centerline instrument pylons, with future plans to move the probe to the nose of the craft, where it will replace the current nose boom used for shockwave probing flights.

Hopefully, the data gathered by this new probe will be highly useful in making supersonic passenger flights viable for use once again, which will be a welcome change for globe-trotters wishing to cut hours off their flights.

NASA to Spend $20 Million on New Supersonic X-Plane

In a bid to develop a plane that could fly over land at supersonic speeds without disturbing those on the ground, NASA has awarded $20 million to Lockheed Martin to develop the concept. This craft will be known as the “low boom” flight demonstration aircraft and will be part of a plan to reintroduce commercial supersonic flights, which have not taken place since Concorde was retired in 2003. The award was announced by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at an event on Monday at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia.

In his speech, Bolden harked back to the first ‘X-Plane’, the Bell X-1, which, piloted by Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier almost 70 years ago. Now we’re continuing that supersonic X-plane legacy with this preliminary design award for a quieter supersonic jet with an aim toward passenger flight.” said Bolden.

This award is the comes after a year of NASA soliciting designs from a number of companies across the US for an aircraft that would be able to break the sound barrier, without the typical large sonic booms. Instead, the designs should result in more of a supersonic “heartbeat”, which is closer to a soft thump than a violent boom, also known as Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST).

The Lockheed team chosen by NASA will receive $20 million over the next 17 months in order to develop the prototype QueSST design, including drawing up baseline aircraft requirements and a preliminary aircraft design, with specifications, as well as provide supporting documentation for concept formulation and planning. This documentation would then be used going forward with the final design, building and testing of the first QueSST jet, which would be subject to another future contract competition run by the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate’s Integrated Aviation Systems Program.

We have seen many crazy designs for “Concorde 2” and the like, which seek to bring supersonic passenger jets back to the air. The timescale on this new X-Plane is long, however, the development of quiet supersonic technology could overcome one of the main issues with supersonic flight which has seen it banned over land in some parts of the world. Whether this design is successful or joins many other X-Planes as amazing prototypes of technology for their time remains to be seen, but there really could just be a ‘new Concorde’ on the horizon.

Could Hypersonic Air Travel Become a Reality?

Air travel has become the norm within today’s fast past society, from the extremely affordable ticket prices coupled with the package holiday’s that have become part of many people’s yearly quest for adventure. But, what is next for air travel? Can it be developed to the point whereby consumers are able to fly to for example Australia from the UK in less than 22 hrs?

Well, a potentially sizeable development is on the horizon after Orbital in conjunction with NASA has developed and preliminarily tested what is known as a “3D printed hypersonic engine combustor at NASA’s Langley Research Centre in Virginia”. This could potentially facilitate air travel at amazing speeds of up to 3,425 mph (5,500km/h) or 4.5 times the speed of sound, which is fast.

Below is an image of a concept hypersonic plane which has been modelled within design software that is used for the purposes of aerodynamics, it certainly looks fascinating for a ground level design. The combustor was created through a manufacturing process known as “powder bed fusion” (PBF). Within this is a layer of “metal alloy powder that is printed before a laser fuses areas together based on the pattern which is fed into the machine by a software program

The combustor has as you would expect been put through a series of hypersonic flight conditions over the course of 20 days. Orbital have also stated that one of the most complex parts with which to develop is the Scramjet combustion system which needs to maintain stable combustion within an extremely volatile environment. This technique could also have the potential to be used within future versions of NASA’s X-43 experimental hypersonic aircraft which is pictured below alongside the Langley Research Centre in Virginia.

In case you’re wondering, the definition of a Scramjet is an air-breathing aircraft that carries only “hydrogen fuel, the aircraft pulls the oxygen needed and burns it from the atmosphere; this is instead of the traditional method of fuel and the required oxygen to provide acceleration

These developments could pave the way for a future whereby consumers could, in theory, be whizzing around the globe by hypersonic power.

Elon Musk’s Supersonic Hyperloop Opening Time Revealed

The future of tomorrow, today. Well not entirely, but it is getting closer and we know have an official time frame for the Supersonic Hyperloop train by Elon Musk and his team. The plans have long existed and they’ve come closer to reality every day. 2016 will be the year where it all starts, but it won’t be the year that we get to ride this hyperspeed train yet.

The construction of the 760mph (about 1220 km/h) Supersonic Hyperloop is set to begin within weeks where a five-mile long test track will be built around Quay Valley in Kings County, California. Elon Musk first revealed the train in a whitepaper three years ago, which isn’t that long ago. He himself won’t be actively involved in these steps of the process for the Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) company, as he’s already CEO of Tesla and SpaceX that surely keeps him more than busy.

The new Hyperloop won’t just be built around an existing town as Elon Musk is a man that thinks big. Quay Valley is a proposed 75,000-resident community that will be solar powered and placed halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The land will be surveyed in the coming few weeks over February and March while the actual construction set to begin in the middle of 2016. So when will the public be able to ride this new supersonic train? That date is a bit further down the road, but not too far either as it will open to the public in 2018. At least that is the plan according to HTT.

Now we just need to cross our fingers and hope that it doesn’t turn into a Simpon’s styled Monorail and that it can stop better than the Falcon 9 can land. The only really sad part thing around the hyperloop is, that it is being built so far away for most of us that we don’t really have the biggest of chances to ride it.

‘Concord 2’ Hypersonic Airbus Being Developed!

Airbus are known for their giant airplanes, and it’s not hard to know why, as they’re used all over the world to transport people and materials. Their new design hopes to improve on that by allowing them to travel at speeds of up to four and a half times the speed of sound!

To summarise this, travelling to New York from London currently takes seven to eight hours, with the new airbus design the flight would take a single hour. Flights from Paris to San Fransico and Tokyo to Los Angeles would take a mere three hours, saving people and companies time which they often don’t have lying around (or sitting) in the air.

The airplane will be a little different from your normal flight. designed to take off vertically thanks to some engines mounted underneath the jet is designed to climb vertically until it’s almost at the speed of sound. After this, it relies on rocket motors to carry it up to 100,000 feet before finally allowing the ramjets to push it to a final speed of Mach 4.5.

The design is similar to a lot of high-speed military jets, and even has some resemblance to the concord, a jet which was not allowed to operate over land due to the worry that it would cause a sonic boom. The new crafts design is built to limit not only the noise it creates but also the sonic booms, thereby hoping to allow it to travel in more populated areas without the restrictions set on the concord.

With only twenty seats on each jet, the chances are the tickets will be highly priced and the onboard entertainment short. Who wants a meal with their flight anyway?

Thank you Tech Sport for the information and the image. 

Russia Wants to Build Supersonic Transport Plane

It is usually North Korea that is in the headlines when we hear some ridiculous news, like flying to the sun and back in one night. This time it is Russia that is trying to grab the world’s most ridiculous headline with their proposed new super airplane. The Kremlin propaganda outfit RT cites design specifications from Russia’s Military-Industrial Commission, the new PAKTA transport plane will have the ability to fly at supersonic speed while carrying massive amounts of cargo. While this would be really cool, and maybe possible if the best heads in the world got together, it’s highly unlikely that Russia can pull something like this off.

Russia wants to upgrade their air fleet that mostly consists of Soviet-era aircrafts and dedicated $130 billion through 2020 for this. The PAKTA is part of this and the next-generation carrier is touted as being able to travel at supersonic speeds, carry up to 200 tons of cargo, and have a range of 4,350 miles. But it would also need a massive amount of fuel and long runways, which would limit the airports it can land on. It would also need a very wide wingspan, making it an easy target for enemy fighters.

The payload capacity of 200 tons is 80 tons more than the US’ largest cargo plane, the C-5 Galaxy. Another thing that stands out is the hybrid engines. The main engine is gas powered, but it also has two electrical turbines. While electrical motors are making a leap forward in the automobile industry, they are far from suited for aircraft use. It will be interesting to see if Russia can pull this off, or if it’s just a front to funnel a lot of funds into a private company.

Thanks to Business Insider for providing us with this information