• Joe Breitfeller

Virgin Galactic Unveils Mach 3 Supersonic Aircraft Design, Signs MOU with Rolls-Royce

Last week, Virgin Galactic revealed their design concept for a Mach 3 Supersonic commercial passenger aircraft. The company also signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding with Rolls-Royce for propulsion system design collaboration.

Virgin Galactic Unveils Mach 3 Supersonic Commercial Aircraft Concept - Courtesy Virgin Galactic

On Monday (August 3, 2020), Virgin Galactic unveiled a design concept for a new Mach 3 supersonic passenger aircraft. The delta-wing design will accommodate between nine and nineteen passengers and cruise at an altitude of over 60,000 feet. The company also signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Rolls-Royce for a collaboration in the design of an engine propulsion system. The company previously completed its Mission Concept Review (MCR) program milestone and authorization from the FAA’s Center for Emerging Concepts to outline a certification framework. In last week’s announcement, Virgin Galactic’s Chief Space Officer, George Whitesides 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 our unrivaled customer experience. We are pleased to collaborate with the innovative team at Rolls-Royce as we strive to develop sustainable, cutting edge propulsion systems for the aircraft, and we are pleased to be working with the FAA to ensure our designs can make a practical impact from the start. We have made great progress so far, and we look forward to opening up a new frontier in high speed travel.”

Also commenting on the propulsion system collaboration, Rolls-Royce North America’s Chairman and CEO, Tom Bell added,

“We are excited to partner with Virgin Galactic and TSC [The Spaceship Company] to explore the future of sustainable high speed flight. Rolls-Royce brings a unique history in high-speed propulsion, going back to the Concorde, and offers world-class technical capabilities to develop and field the advanced propulsion systems needed to power commercially available high-Mach travel.”

Virgin Galactic's Mach 3 Supersonic Aircraft Will Carry 9-19 Passengers and Cruise at Over 60,000 Feet - Courtesy Virgin Galactic

The Mission Concept review included representatives of NASA who previously signed a Space Act Agreement with Virgin Galactic to collaborate on high speed technologies. The conclusion of the MCR allows the team to progress to the next design phase where specific system architectures and configurations are defined, including challenges such as thermal management, maintenance, noise, emissions and economics.

Source: Virgin Galactic

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