Virgin Galactic’s record of delays and broken promises raises doubts about its ambitious supersonic aircraft project as company founder Richard Branson fights to save his struggling empire in the midst of a global pandemic.
Updated on 10/27/20 at 12:39 p.m. PDT to include spending comparison of Virgin Orbit to Rocket Lab.
by Douglas Messier Managing Editor
Richard Branson’s dream of a suborbital Virgin Galactic vehicle zipping passengers between distant cities at hypersonic speeds above Mach 5 (6,174 km/h, 3,836 mph) is dead. At least for now.
In August, the space tourism company he founded pivoted to a slower supersonic Mach 3 (3,704 km/h, 2,302 mph) business jet. Virgin Galactic unveiled a mission concept for an aircraft that would carry 9-19 passengers at a cruising altitude of 60,000 ft (18,288 m).
Boom Supersonic’s recent rollout of its XB-1 supersonic demonstrator aircraft marked a milestone in an accelerating race to revive an era of civilian supersonic travel that ended when the Concorde jetliner was retired in 2003.
XB-1, aka Baby Boom, is set to begin flight tests next year from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The Mach 2.2 (2,717 km/h, 1,688 mph) vehicle is the precursor to Boom’s 55-seat Overture airliner, which is scheduled to begin carrying passengers in 2029.
DENVER, Sept. 8, 2020 (Boom Supersonic PR) – Boom Supersonic, an aerospace company building the world’s fastest commercial airliner, today announced that the company has been awarded a contract by the Air Force under its program meant to help fund innovations with future Air Force applications.
The contract will fund explorations of an Overture configuration designed for Air Force executive transport. The Department of Defense and the Air Force manage all air transport for executive branch top leadership, including Air Force One.
DENVER, July 30, 2020 (Boom Supersonic) – Boom Supersonic, an aerospace company building the world’s fastest civil aircraft, and leading industrial technology company, Rolls-Royce, today announced an engagement agreement to explore the pairing of a Rolls-Royce propulsion system with Boom’s flagship supersonic passenger aircraft, Overture.
DENVER (Boom Supersonic PR) — Boom Supersonic, the Colorado company building history’s fastest supersonic airliner, has announced the formation of a strategic partnership with Flight Research, Inc. (FRI) aimed at bringing test flights for XB-1, Boom’s supersonic demonstrator aircraft, to the supersonic corridor stretching across the Mojave Desert.
As part of the partnership, FRI will provide Flight Test Support to Boom with a T-38 Talon, a two-seat, twin-jet supersonic trainer, for pilot proficiency training as well as a chase aircraft during XB-1’s flight test program.
Boom Supersonic to Roll Out Historic XB-1 Demonstrator Oct. 7
Virtual Global Event Will Mark Key Milestone en Route to Company’s 2021 First Flight [at the Mojave Air and Space Port]
DENVER, July 8, 2020 (Boom Supersonic PR) – Boom Supersonic, the aerospace company building the world’s fastest airliner today announced that its supersonic demonstrator, XB-1, will roll out on October 7, 2020. In keeping with CDC-recommended social distancing measures, the entire event will be available online and allow attendees an opportunity to submit questions to company leadership.