Hyper­sonic hype

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Con­corde may have gone the way of the dodo, but China has am­bi­tions to cre­ate a hyper­sonic plane to fly from Bei­jing to New York in a mere two hours.

The flight nor­mally takes around 14 hours, but sci­en­tists from the Chi­nese Academy of Sci­ences have tested a scaled-down ver­sion of the I-plane hyper­sonic air­craft, which can hit speeds of up to Mach 7 (8,600kph).

Trav­el­ing at hyper­sonic speeds is a tricky bal­ance of main­tain­ing a lift-to-drag ra­tio due to the pres­ence of “strong shock wave drag and mas­sive vis­cos­ity”. The I-plane has two sets of wings to com­bat that problem.

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