China is the newest entrant in the race to create a hypersonic jet that can ferry passengers and cargo to any part of the world. According to a new report, the engineers involved in the country’s space program are currently also working on a hypersonic aircraft that could be ferrying more than 10,000 passengers to space every year by 2050. The initial design renderings of the aircraft were published by the bimonthly Chinese journal Physics of Gases. Measuring in at 45 meters in length, the Chinese hypersonic jet would be nearly a third longer than a 737-700. The aircraft has a delta-wing design and has a strong resemblance with the iconic Concorde supersonic jet.
According to a report by South China Morning Post, the hypersonic jet will be powered by a pair of engines mounted on top of the fuselage. Current estimates suggest the jet will be capable of reaching up to speeds of Mach 6 (six times the speed of sound). There are a lot of design challenges involved in creating such a complex aircraft that could cruise at such speeds. Scientists from the Beijing Institute of Technology and the Institute of Spacecraft System Engineering have been involved in the project in the design and modeling of the hypersonic jet. The researchers used a new aerodynamic model that has been proven effective in China’s latest space missions.
The development team involved with the project has set a target of 2025 to complete and verify all components necessary for hypersonic flight. By 2035, China aims to have its own fleet of hypersonic jets that can ferry up to 10 passengers to anywhere on Earth within an hour, claims the news report. A decade later, fully operational hypersonic jets could be carrying 100 passengers per flight as well as delivering 10,000 tons of cargo and 10,000 people to space.
There are several other companies that are currently developing hypersonic jets of their own. Last year, Virgin Galactic announced that it has partnered with NASA to develop supersonic point-to-point air travel. However, their planned aircraft with a cruising speed of Mach 3 will be much slower than the Chinese hypersonic jet. The Covid-19 pandemic has also made things difficult for many of these companies that rely on external funding. A few months back, American company Aerion had to shut shop as it failed to secure funds. But the story might be a little different as far as the Chinese hypersonic jet is concerned. With the Chinese government involved in the project, funding might not a limiting factor.