Next Big Thing – hypersonic plane travel

London to Sydney in an hour? It'll take us longer to stock up on duty free

 

You've been watching too much sci-fi

No we haven't – this is a real aircraft. Right about now in California the Pentagon's intergalactic pet project, Falcon HTV-2, is launching into space at hypersonic speeds.

So it's a rocket, then?

We prefer the term 'unmanned aircraft'. The 12 foot long HTV-2 jets into the big black on a (separate) massive rocket. And yes, it's fast – 16,700mph fast. That's New York to LA in 12 minutes and any journey across the globe in under an hour.

Where do I sit?

Good question. Remember we said it was unmanned? The extra body weight of actual passengers might slow it down a touch but we'd settle for anything over 10,000mph. A touch less for short haul flights – we're not picky.

Track the HTV-2's progress on Twitter.

EDIT: After a successful launch the Falcon HTV-2 reached Mach 20 then stopped transmitting data after nine minutes. Program manager Air Force Maj. Chris Schulz has said “I’m confident there is a solution. We have to find it.” That should give us a bit longer to save up for our ticket on the first hypersonic passenger flight, then.

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