Recently released renderings show a clean design, reminiscent of the Concorde, a Franco-British supersonic airliner shelved in the early 2000s. In fact, the Concorde used aircraft engines built by Rolls-Royce.
The concept is designed to fly at three times the speed of sound (about 3,700 km/h) using a single large triangular wing structure. It can only carry nine to 19 passengers and fly at an altitude of 18,000 meters, which is about twice the cruising altitude of a conventional airliner.
“We have made great progress so far and look forward to opening a new frontier in high-speed travel,” George Whitesides, Virgin Galactic’s chief space officer, said in a statement .
According to Virgin Galactic, the plans have already been reviewed by NASA. The next step is to work with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to certify it for future flights.
Fast and Furious
The news comes nearly a week after Virgin Galactic showed the inside of the cabin of its SpaceShipTwo spacecraft , which is meant to launch tourists into space.
Virgin Galactic is not the only company to develop such a supersonic aircraft. A number of smaller companies are developing similar jets, and the first test flights are expected as early as 2023, according to CNBC.