It’s been nearly 15 years since the Concorde — one of only two commerical supersonic jets to ever grace the friendly skies — took its final flight. But the era of hyperspeed air travel may soon be alive and well, with both Boeing and the Richard-Branson backed Boom having revealed plans tabbed for production over the last two yaers.
And now NASA's getting in on the action.
Built in conjunction with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, the X-Plane is a manned aircraft capable of besting the sound barrier, which, in case you needed a refresher, is a whopping 767 MPH. The project will cost a cool $247.5M, and targets 2021 for its first fully-functioning model, with hopes of integrating the planes into commercial use for 2025.
The primary hurdle to that? Supersonic air travel over land is still explicitly banned in most places, and for good reason: it generates shock waves not dissimilar to thunderclaps. NASA and friends, though, have worked hard for years on refining the shape of the hull, and believe they’ve perfected a plane that won't emit a sonic boom. So assuming their planned “low-boom” flight demonstrations in the early 2020s don’t upset the neighbors much, commercial travel in these 94-foot people-movers might not be far off.
We personally cannot wait for them to hit the mainstream. JFK to LAX in an hour and change? Yes, please.