Until now, the term “supersonic” air travel was used to refer to the highest speed flight. ‘Supersonic’ aircraft can travel slightly faster than sound. But in the near future, aircraft may go beyond ‘supersonic’ to ‘hypersonic’ speeds. And that’s why work is going on in different parts of the world.
Already, companies such as Boom Supersonic and Lockheed Martin have invested in technology that could make commercial supersonic flight possible again.
But some startups have more ambitious goals. These companies want to build a hypersonic space vehicle that can travel at several times the speed of sound. If it is possible to build such an aircraft, a distance like London from New York can be reached in just 90 minutes.
However, what exactly hypersonic travel will look like has yet to be defined. However, this hypersonic aircraft usually refers to an aircraft that can fly at ‘Mach 5’ or 5 times the speed of sound. This means that these planes can go about 3,900 miles per hour. Or cross the Atlantic in just two hours.
No operational hypersonic aircraft are yet carrying passengers. However, before this, a passenger supersonic aircraft named ‘Concord’ has operated. The speed of ‘Concord’ was ‘Mach 2.02’. This plane could fly from New York to London in three and a half hours.
Originally the Concorde was a supersonic aircraft owned by France and Britain. The aircraft was jointly developed by ‘Sud Aviation’ and ‘British Aircraft Corporation’. The design of the Concorde did not have a tail section like conventional aircraft. Due to its narrow and compressed main structure, it could seat a total of 92 to 128 passengers 4 people side by side. However, due to various reasons, the ‘Concord’ aircraft is no longer in commercial operation for many years.
On the other hand, it will probably be at least another decade before hypersonic aircraft can safely carry people. However, many are optimistic about the technology of this aircraft. Many venture capital or investment firms have already invested millions of dollars in startups like ‘Hermus’ and ‘Venus Aerospace’.
The startup named ‘Hermius’ was founded in 2018. Their main goal is to radically change the air travel experience. They are working on a Mach 5 aircraft. This aircraft will run at more than twice the speed of the ‘Supersonic Concorde’. Passengers will be able to cross the Atlantic in just 90 minutes.
Hermus is working with other government agencies including the US Air Force and NASA to develop hypersonic passenger aircraft. They want to create automated planes that will make air travel more risk-free. At the same time, many security challenges can be solved.
They are working towards making fast, safe and comfortable commercial air travel a reality. They will also provide necessary information to other organizations for the construction and operation of these aircraft in the future.
On the other hand, ‘The Stargazer’ is a hypersonic aircraft. Venus Aerospace, a Houston-based company in the state of Texas, USA, is working to build it. This aircraft has a streamlined shape, which is different from most passenger aircraft.
‘Stargazer’ could be the next generation hypersonic aircraft, which will operate at Mach 9 speed. The plan of the officials of ‘Venus Aerospace’ is that the aircraft can be operated in two ways, including an automatic drone and a driver.
You can fly from Tokyo to Los Angeles in about an hour. When taking off from a conventional airport, such a hypersonic aircraft will initially ascend at subsonic speeds. They will start moving at hypersonic speeds only after climbing to an altitude of 1,70,000 feet or 51,816 meters.
When the first ‘Stargazer’ aircraft model was built, its proposed dimensions were 100 feet wide and 150 feet long. ‘Stargazer’ can carry a weight of 68,039 kg. And it will seat a maximum of 12 passengers.
‘Stargazer’ is still in the early stages of production. Therefore, no information has been released yet about how its fuel will be or whether it will be environmentally friendly. Many questions about noise pollution are still unanswered.
In order to make hypersonic aircraft a reality, these startups have to solve several challenges. It’s not just about building an engine that will make an aircraft fly at hypersonic speeds. Rather, it must also be ensured that these high-speed vehicles can be efficiently controlled and operated. And for the construction of aircraft, such a design or design must be made, through which these aircraft can withstand the friction and intense heat generated by the air during hypersonic travel.