Hypersonic jets that fly at five times the speed of sound

November 5th, 2010 - 6:34 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Nov 5 (IANS) NASA is planning to build hypersonic jets that would travel at five times the speed of sound and bring in a new age of aircraft.

It would reduce the flight time from New York to Sydney from the current 21 hours to two-and-a-half hours.

The project is thought to be aimed at making a reusable aircraft that could fly to Mars but, as with previous space technology, it could hugely impact passenger transport too, reports the Daily Mail.

Under the NASA Aeronautics 2010 proposal, the US space agency will allocate $5 million per year for the next three years to make the new aircraft a reality.

The aim is to create something which can carry passengers through the atmosphere, descend and land safely before being reused.

“Space access launch vehicles must be lightweight, fully reusable and easily maintained if low-cost access to space is to be achieved,” the proposal says.

Hypersonic aircraft is still a fairly new concept and follows on from Concorde, which flew at Mach 2, or twice the speed of sound. A hypersonic aircraft would reach Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound.

In June this year an experimental scramjet aircraft set a record for hypersonic flight, blazing through the air for more than three minutes at Mach 6, or more than 4,500 mph.

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