Houston, we have a new mode of air travel. NASA and Lockheed Martin officially unveiled the brand-new X-59 Supersonic last week. No, that’s not the name of Elon Musk’s newest child – it’s a new aircraft model which promises to travel faster than the speed of sound (767 miles an hour) and obliterate journey times between London and New York.
The X-59 will apparently be able to get from the Big Smoke to the Big Apple in just three and a half hours. That’s not much longer than it takes to get from London to Old York.
NASA’s new plane has been dubbed ‘Son of Concorde’ and the agency hopes it’ll revolutionise air travel. Before it can enter public service, however, it needs to be extensively tested in order to gauge how loud it is. Supersonic flights have been banned by the US and a number of nations for the last 50 years because of the ear-splitting and startling sonic booms created by planes travelling faster than the speed of sound.
The 100-foot long, 30-foot wide X-59 aircraft is hoping to circumvent sound restrictions with innovative design. Its long, tapered nose apparently breaks up the shock waves which would ordinarily result in a sonic boom, while its streamlined design will allow it to fly at lightning speeds of 925 mph – 1.4 times the speed of sound. So, maybe not one for the motion sickness inclined.
The X-59 will be test-flown across several US cities to collect data about how loud it is. If it’s bearable enough to the general public, the data will be used to roll out the aircraft for wider usage. We could see commercial supersonic planes by as soon as 2035.
And this isn’t the only super-speedy plane looking to transform transatlantic travel. Another company called Boom Supersonic is also developing plane tech that’ll get from LDN to NYC in three and a half hours. Read all about that here.
Did you see that these are the best (and worst) London Underground lines, apparently?
Stay in the loop: sign up to our free Time Out London newsletter for the best of the city, straight to your inbox.