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Colorado-based com­pany Boom Su­per­sonic, which ear­lier this year en­tered into a $2 bil­lion part­ner­ship with Sir Richard Bran­son’s Vir­gin Ga­lac­tic, has taken a sig­nif­i­cant step to­ward mak­ing that a re­al­ity for travelers, re­cently un­veil­ing its first pro­to­type. NASA is work­ing to­ward fly­ing a quiet su­per­sonic jet, named the QueSST in 2019.

Boom has al­ready re­vealed with its first air­craft, the XB-1 Su­per­sonic Demon­stra­tor, will look like, but now it can ac­tu­ally start the task of build­ing one that it can be­gin test­ing, which it ex­pects to start in about a year. The Demon­stra­tor will be a hu­man pi­loted, 1/3 scale pro­to­type of the even­tual 45-pas­sen­ger jet craft it aims to use for com­mer­cial ser­vice, with Vir­gin Ga­lac­tic as its first pay­ing cus­tomer for planes.

The XB-1 - ap­pro­pri­ately nick­named Baby Boom - is ca­pa­ble of fly­ing 2.6 times faster than any other air­liner, reach­ing a high speed of mach 2.2, or 1,451 mph., faster than the de­funct Con­corde and cer­tainly faster than the stan­dard 550 mph, with fares no more ex­pen­sive than a cur­rent busi­ness-class round trip, which ranges be­tween $5,000 and $10,000.

That’s im­por­tant con­sid­er­ing cost was one of the fac­tors that doomed the Con­corde.

That means pas­sen­gers can travel from New York to Lon­don in just three hours and 15 min­utes and make the 15-hour jour­ney from Syd­ney to Los An­ge­les in un­der seven hours. Con­corde could only fly up to 4,000 miles, could not fly non­stop over the Pa­cific.

Other po­ten­tial is­sues in­clude sound and fuel ef­fi­ciency, which the com­pany plans to ad­dress through the uti­liza­tion of ad­vanced ma­te­ri­als and im­proved en­gine tech­nol­ogy.

NASA’s plans for a quiet su­per­sonic jet, the QueSST, just be­came tan­gi­ble: the agency and Lock­heed Martin have started wind tun­nel tests for the fu­ture X-plane.

It’s a scale model at this stage, but it will be sub­jected to winds as high as Mach 1.6 (950MPH) to gauge both its aero­dy­namic per­for­mance as well as parts of its propul­sion sys­tem. The tests should run un­til the mid­dle of 2017.

Whether or not QueSST moves beyond these tests will de­pend on fund­ing ap­proval. If it does get the go ahead, though, the next step is mak­ing an hon­est-to­good­ness air­craft poised to fly in 2020.

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