In addition to space tourism, Virgin Galactic has big plans for high-speed air travel. Those plans require a new kind of aircraft, and today, the company unveiled the initial design concepts for its March 3 high-speed plane. Virgin Galactic also announced its intent to work with Rolls-Royce.
The first stage design scope is for a Mach 3 certified delta-wing aircraft that will carry nine to 19 people and fly at an altitude of 60,000 feet. It will offer custom cabin layouts, like business or first-class seating arrangements, and Virgin Galactic hopes to use sustainable aviation fuel.
“The design philosophy of the aircraft is geared around making high speed travel practical, sustainable, safe, and reliable while making customer experience a top priority,” Virgin Galactic wrote in a press release.
Next, the company will define specific system architectures and will determine which materials to use in the design and manufacturing of the aircraft. The company also signed a non-binding memo with Rolls-Royce to collaborate on designing and developing engine propulsion technology for high-speed commercial aircraft.
While there’s still plenty of work to be done, this initial design gives us a glimpse into the future of high-speed air travel. We’ve already seen what Virgin Galactic’s space tourism will look like — from what passengers will wear to how the spacecraft cabin will be configured.