NASA signed with the companies Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company agreement on the development of supersonic vehicles for civilian use and flights between two points. Earlier, the head of Virgin Galactic Richard Branson saidthat in the future the company may create a network of airfields for supersonic passenger suborbital flights.
The main activity of Virgin Galactic is a suborbital space tourist training or high-altitude atmospheric flight on the SpaceShipTwo spaceplane. The company has developed and is actively testing a hybrid system consisting of the aircraft carrier and run with him spaceplane. After takeoff, at an altitude of about 15 kilometers planes dropped spaceplane and he starts to fly up at its jet engine, and after shutdown of six tourists in a few minutes be in a state of weightlessness and see the Earth and space through the portholes. And take-off and landing of the carrier aircraft and the spaceplane happen on a standard runway, which greatly simplifies preparation for flying.
In addition to space tourism company in cooperation with NASA in other areas: sends flying scientific instruments, services, and plans to carry on their spaceplane for astronauts to prepare for full space flights. Now Virgin Galactic and its subsidiary, The Spaceship Company has signed an agreement with NASA to develop technologies for high-speed flight.
The organization did not disclose specific plans for cooperation, but said that his ultimate goal is to create a practically applicable aircraft, moving at speeds of high Mach number. The devices are designed for civilian flight between two distant points.
The statement is not disclosed whether Virgin Galactic to use the scheme with an air launch from aircraft carrier and generally own the devices. It is known that Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company is not the first year cooperate with the startup Boom Supersonic developing the plane XB-1, which could be the first supersonic passenger plane since the Concorde and Tu-144.
To use space technology for rapid passenger flights plans and the company SpaceX. She is going to use this to develop super-heavy rocket, Starship. Initially it was assumed that flights between cities of Earth will be used a full two-stage rocket, but in the past year the project has made changes and Elon Musk has statedthat flights to a distance of 10 thousand kilometers it will be possible to use only the second step, which significantly reduces the cost and complexity of flight.
Despite this, the scheme SpaceX is quite complicated primarily because of the fact that the rocket will not start with a commuter airport, and a large barge at sea, to which the passengers need to get on a boat or other vehicle. This is because the rocket will emit near densely populated cities are too loud, the forbidden modern aviation standards. The problem of noise has become one of the key in a supersonic civil aviation, which after completion of the flight of the “Concorde” they have not yet created a full-fledged replacement. Details about this can be read in our article “Turn on the afterburners”.