Virgin Galactic's supersonic jet capable of speeds over Mach 3

AP A British Airways Concorde supersonic jet taking off in flight. AP

AP A British Airways Concorde supersonic jet taking off in flight. AP

"We have made great progress so far, and we look forward to opening up a new frontier in high speed travel".

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 unrivaled customer experience'".

The memorandum of understanding between Rolls and Virgin Galactic is not the only supersonic civilian aircraft project the British engineer is working on.

AFPThe company, which was listed on the stock exchange past year, is seeking to diversify and in May it announced an agreement with NASA to develop high-speed technology.

The aircraft is created to be able to take passengers on long-distance commercial aviation routes, taking off and landing like any other passenger aircraft, and able to integrate into existing airport infrastructure and worldwide airspace around the world.

While that vehicle is in its final testing phase, the supersonic passenger jet has years of development to go before it can even be considered for commercial use.

The Spaceship Company, which builds air and space craft for its parent company, Virgin Galactic, announced a new design for a commercial airliner that can fly at three times the speed of sound, as well as a partnership with engine-maker Rolls-Royce, which built the engines for one of the few operational supersonic airliners ever made, the Concorde.

The project would be distinct from Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo suborbital space plane program, which is closing in on the start of commercial operations at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

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Analysts have been eyeing the potential disruption for the long-haul flights market from space-focused companies, seeing this as a potential game-changer for the premium travel market. "The things that we're working on are very much part of our aviation future", he said.

If Virgin Galactic's supersonic airplane turns out to be vaporware, at least it's cool-looking vaporware.

Rolls-Royce has "a proven record of delivering high Mach propulsion, powering the only civil-certified commercial aircraft (Concorde) capable of supersonic flight", according to a statement from Virgin Galactic. "The competition will be doing Mach 25".

This is what SpaceX hopes to eventually do with its fully reusable Starship-Super Heavy launch system.

Between 1976 and 2003, a transatlantic flight between NY and London took just three hours. The sleek aircraft shares with Concorde not only a sweeping delta-wing design, but also an engine manufacturer.

The development timeline of this new aircraft remains unclear.

"It's not going to be next year, but it is something that I think we can continue to work on in a sort of a staged approach and hopefully change the world", Whitesides previously told Business Insider.

Virgin Galactic stock rose 4% to US$23.33 in early Wall Street trading on Monday.

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