Virgin Galactic Mach 3 aircraft will be powered by Rolls-Royce

Shawn Knight

Posts: 12,533   +122
Staff member
Editor's take: There have been talks of using suborbital rockets to accomplish rapid travel although lately, firms like Virgin have been leaning more towards supersonic jets to get the job done. One would suspect this is likely due to potential safety and cost concerns, or perhaps they're just looking to walk before they run.

Virgin Galactic on Monday unveiled the initial design concept of its next-generation high speed aircraft.

The proposed Mach 3 aircraft would travel at an altitude above 60,000 feet with accommodations for between nine and 19 people. Virgin said it’ll be able to incorporate custom cabin layouts to address customer needs, such as business and first class seating arrangements.

The British spaceflight company said the craft’s design will also help lead the way toward the use of state-of-the-art sustainable aviation fuel. To help realize that goal, Virgin is collaborating with Rolls-Royce on the project through the “signing of a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).”

Rolls-Royce, if you didn’t know, is much more than just a luxury automobile maker. Rolls-Royce Holdings is a multinational engineering company that has its hands in all sorts of ventures. As it just so happens, they’re the world’s second-largest maker of aircraft engines and even worked on the powerplant for the Concord, the supersonic passenger jet that debuted way back in 1969 and remained operational until 2003.

Virgin earlier this year signed a “Space Act Agreement” with NASA to further expedite the development of high-speed technologies. The overall goal with both partnerships is simple – to help get people from Point A to point B faster than what is currently possible with today’s commercial aircraft.

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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 3,350   +3,174
So let me get this straight:

Building larger aircraft like the A380-800 and 777x is considered "bad", uneconomical and wasteful, but you find it logical to send a fraction of the total number of people those planes could carry to the edge of space???

There's absolutely nothing wrong with the A380-800 or building larger twin-engines like the 777X.

I only hope that Coronavirus does so much damage to the airline industry that these fatcat corporate scum are forced to "socially distance" us on aircraft: ie not squeezing us into cramped spaces .

I only fly business class and what's so funny is that they give you more space that you actually need while giving economy less than they actually need for these 16+ hour flights rather than just splitting the difference and giving everyone more leg and hip space.

Furthermore: the business sections normally are half empty or mostly empty because passengers aren't willing to go from $1000 to $4000 per ticket.

I guarantee, the cost of these suborbital flights are gonna be so high the losses will make the Concorde look like a value king.
 
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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 3,350   +3,174
All that effort to transport only 9-19 people! Sinfull!

My flights to Dubai from JFK on Emirates A380-800 normally have over 500 passengers for a 12 hour flight.

The Concorde carried 100 for a 6 hour flight.

How they justify spending this much money for so few passengers makes both the Concorde and A380 look like value kings.

My ONLY HOPE is that Coronavirus damages the airline industry so badly that they are forced to use A380, 787 and 777X as well as the A350-900 instead of retiring them or underordering them.

There's no way to "socially distance" when you're cramming so many into such small spaces.
 
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neeyik

Posts: 1,306   +1,384
Staff member
Rolls Royce Automobiles has nothing whatsoever to do with the Rolls Royce Aero-engines.
Not since the 1980s, when the car division was sold to Vickers (who then hoofed it off to Volkswagen in the late 90s). Be kind to Shawn, the history of the British motor industry is an absolute mess to get to your head around, even for Brits. 🙂🇬🇧🚗
 

VariableSpike

Posts: 24   +26
Not since the 1980s, when the car division was sold to Vickers (who then hoofed it off to Volkswagen in the late 90s). Be kind to Shawn, the history of the British motor industry is an absolute mess to get to your head around, even for Brits. 🙂🇬🇧🚗
Especially if you consider that Volkswagen then sold the rights to BMW while they bpught the rights to Bentley from BMW!

Talking about the plane, what I don't get here is that Virgin must have seen what happened with the Concorde and yet they've somehow seemingly still goosed over the main issues - it will drink fuel like mad, so the range is going to be very meh, especially whne you want to run at such a high altitude, where I assume they will use some kind of ramjet, which burns a load of fuel, especially if they plan to use some kind of voodoo sustainable fuel - yes the plane will be quieter sonic-boom wise at that altitude, but you have to make it a lot stronger to survive the pressure differential, and so I imagine it will be rather cramped, not mentioning the aerodynamic inefficiency of very high altitude flight - Concorde was already super expensive and yet still struggled to get the first class passengers (who just used their buisiness jets instead) , and I don't imagine Galactic will be any cheaper, so this doesn't make sense economically.
 

mosu

Posts: 540   +159
Especially if you consider that Volkswagen then sold the rights to BMW while they bpught the rights to Bentley from BMW!

Talking about the plane, what I don't get here is that Virgin must have seen what happened with the Concorde and yet they've somehow seemingly still goosed over the main issues - it will drink fuel like mad, so the range is going to be very meh, especially whne you want to run at such a high altitude, where I assume they will use some kind of ramjet, which burns a load of fuel, especially if they plan to use some kind of voodoo sustainable fuel - yes the plane will be quieter sonic-boom wise at that altitude, but you have to make it a lot stronger to survive the pressure differential, and so I imagine it will be rather cramped, not mentioning the aerodynamic inefficiency of very high altitude flight - Concorde was already super expensive and yet still struggled to get the first class passengers (who just used their buisiness jets instead) , and I don't imagine Galactic will be any cheaper, so this doesn't make sense economically.
A niche market for the super-rich, exempted from pollution tax.
 

Vulcanproject

Posts: 1,209   +1,985
The Rolls Royce/Snecma Olympus 593 engines in the Concorde were incredibly efficient.

Literally the most thermodynamically efficient internal combustion engine on the planet at that point, which was required for Concorde to supercruise and still make it across the Atlantic with a full load. World's first production aircraft with full digital computer control of the engines, again necessary for it to work safely.

It was (and remains) a bonkers engineering feat that with 60 years newer technology anyone is still going to struggle to match even on a much smaller scale like this. Arguably only the moon landings compare or surpass it as a technological accomplishment. Ask any engineer.

It was that difficult to get a passenger airliner that big to cruise for that speed at that range. With everyone on board eating caviar and drinking champagne instead of wearing G suits and oxygen masks.
 
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Burty117

Posts: 3,828   +1,698
Not since the 1980s, when the car division was sold to Vickers (who then hoofed it off to Volkswagen in the late 90s). Be kind to Shawn, the history of the British motor industry is an absolute mess to get to your head around, even for Brits. 🙂🇬🇧🚗
Na it's quite simple... We sold off pretty much every car company! Is Lotus still actually British and not owned by a German, the French or Chinese mega corp?
 

krizby

Posts: 429   +283
TechSpot Elite
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mbrowne5061

Posts: 1,604   +906
I believe this article is being a bit misleading (due to Virgin, not the author). If I am not mistaken, the plane in question is actually being designed by Boom Supersonic. Virgin and Japan Airlines are first in line to buy these planes once they are released, hence why you see marketing material with their logos on it.

https://boomsupersonic.com/

https://boomsupersonic.com/press
"Boom Supersonic and Rolls-Royce Agree on New Collaboration for Supersonic Overture Engine Program Design - July 30, 2020"

This would be kind of like saying "Emirates' new plane will have two passenger levels", when the plane itself was built and sold by Airbus.