New Rocket Plane Promises New York to Tokyo Before Your Movie Finishes

Flying is an excruciating exercise in misery. But a plane unveiled at the Paris Air Show yesterday promises to speed things up to Mach 4.5, at least reducing our in-air agony.


European aviation giant EADS, parent company of Airbus, is promoting a new concept plane called the ZEHST (for Zero Emission Hypersonic Transport). It's powered by two jet engines, and three rocket engines (!!!) that work together to fly you 20 miles high in the stratosphere at speeds of up to 3,000 miles an hour.

And that whole zero emissions thing? Not a joke. The jet engines will burn algae-based biofuel, while the rocket engines will burn oxygen and hydrogen, emitting only steam. While EADS expects to have a prototype in the air by 2020, the ZEHST is not expected to enter service until 2050. Which should give Popular Science just enough time to slap on the cover at least once or twice or five hundred times. (I kid! hasn't the ZEHST been on every single cover of Popular Science already? Of course it has.)


EADS via FastCompany]

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This will never happen. I'm sure the technology is there and its perfectly feasible, however the actual carrying capacity looks minimal, not much bigger than a large private jet. I know Concord wasn't exactly roomy, but less passengers per flight is certainly what contributed to Concord's economic troubles. As it stands, the current trend for commercial air travel is packing in more people per flight with more luxury. I think that the whole "experience" aspect of air travel will override the speed of the flight for the rest of commercial air travels life.

At least until space travel becomes commonplace but then there's really no need for airplanes for long haul flights when you can just pop into space for half an orbit and drop back down.