Virgin Galactic Plans to Build Next Generation Supersonic Commercial Aircraft

Entrepreneur Richard Branson’s aerospace company, Virgin Galactic, announced Monday that it is working with British engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce to develop an aircraft that can travel three times the speed of sound.According to a release, Virgin Galactic says its new aircraft will be designed to carry between 9 and 19 people and will be able to “integrate into existing airport infrastructure.”  The company released images of designs of the aircraft, which is fashioned similarly to the Concorde supersonic aircraft, which Rolls-Royce also worked on in the 1960s.  Concorde was retired in 2003.Virgin Galactic said it completed its Mission Concept Review (MCR) and received authorization from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Center for Emerging Concepts and Innovation. The MCR describes a plane that can travel more than 3,700 kilometers per hour at altitudes higher than 18,000 meters, literally to the edge of space.Earlier this year, Virgin Galactic signed what it called “a space act” agreement with the U.S. space agency, NASA, to encourage commercial orbital space flight to the International space station, and to collaborate on high speed technology for lower orbit travel.  The company says it is also working on developing “sustainable” aviation fuel for the aircraft.

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