Supersonic passenger jet prototype completes first unmanned test flight

supersonic passenger jet
Spike Aerospace
You may soon be able to travel from London to New York in just three hours on a supersonic passenger jet capable of speeds up to 1,354 miles per hour. A prototype for the Spike Aerospace S-512 just completed its first unmanned test flight, and commercial versions may be able to take to the skies as early as 2021.

The company said the maiden voyage was “a huge success,” according to the Daily Star. “The SX-1.2 test flights were conducted in a real world situation, and provide significantly more data than wind tunnel tests done in an artificial environment,” said CEO Vik Kachoria. “We were able to test not only handling, but also a range of other considerations.”

Spike didn’t provide any pictures or video of the exercises, but said seven short flights were conducted to test the overall design and flight controls of the aircraft. The tests were performed at a private airfield in New England.

The S-512 Quiet Supersonic Jet seats 18-22 passengers with a range of 6,200 miles and a cruising speed of Mach 1.6. “The new delta wing of the S-512 delivers high aerodynamic efficiency and improved flight performance in both low-speed flight and supersonic cruise,” said Senior Engineer Dr. Anutosh Moitra. “The highly swept leading-edge reduces wave drag and consequently reduces fuel burn and increases range.”

spike aerospace supersonic passenger jet interior

The aircraft also has no horizontal tail, which reduces the drag and weight on the plane in flight. Nor are there windows in the plane; passengers can watch live video from outside on thin display screens embedded into the cabin walls to create a panoramic image, or even opt to watch movies or share family photos.

All this cool stuff doesn’t come cheap, however. Each jet will run between $60 and $80 million.

The Concorde jetliners, only 20 of which were ever built, ruled the skies in the ‘70s but were discontinued in 2003 following numerous safety concerns and a 2000 crash in Paris that killed 109 people.

But now several companies are developing supersonic passenger vehicles for the 21st century. A startup called Boom wants to build a quiet jet with no supersonic boom. NASA has partnered with Lockheed-Martin for a new X-plane jet airliner. Elon Musk wants to basically launch people into space and land them on the other side of the globe in less than an hour.

International travel is poised to take a big leap forward in the next few years, so buckle your seatbelt and go along for the ride.

Emerging Tech

The grid of the future will be powered by … giant subterranean bagpipes?

In order to transition to a more renewable-focused energy system, we need to scale up our grid storage capacity --- and our existing methods aren't going to cut it. Could compressed air be the key?
Computing

Boost your PCs power by learning how to overclock your CPU

Is your PC just chugging along, a little slower than you'd like? Sometimes you just need a little more power under the hood. Before you pick up some new hardware, learn how to overclock your CPU.
Computing

Working hard or hardly working? Do it right with these versatile PC desks

Looking for a new piece of furniture that will fit in your office, dorm, or gaming cave? Here are some of our favorite computer desks on the market, whether you're a serious gamer looking for an upgrade, or just moved into a new space.
Photography

Capture life in every direction with the best 360 cameras

While 360 cameras are still a new technology, that doesn't mean there's not a few that are worth a look. Whether you want to shoot from the middle or just need a simple, affordable option, here are the best 360 cameras on the market.
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10 update gives manual control of Bright Night mode

Samsung 2019 flagship smartphone lineup is here, and there aren't just two phones as usual — there are four. There's the Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, as well as a new entry called the S10e, as well as the Galaxy S10 5G.
Emerging Tech

Gravitational forces at heart of Milky Way shaped this star cluster like a comet

Hubble has captured the stunning Messier 62 cluster. The cluster is warped, with a long tail which stretches out to form a shape like a comet. It is thought this distortion is due to Messier 62's proximity to the center of the galaxy.
Emerging Tech

Burgers are just the beginning: Embracing the future of lab-grown everything

You’ve almost certainly heard of the 'farm to fork' movement, but what about 'lab to table'? Welcome to the fast-evolving world of lab-grown meat. Is this the future of food as we know it?
Emerging Tech

Troubleshooting Earth

It’s no secret that humans are killing the planet. Some say it’s actually so bad that we’re hurtling toward a sixth major extinction event -- one which we ourselves are causing. But can technology help us undo the damage we’ve…
Emerging Tech

Inside the Ocean Cleanup’s ambitious plan to rid the ocean of plastic waste

In 2013, Boyan Slat crowdfunded $2.2 million to fund the Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit organization that builds big, floating trash collectors and sets them out to sea, where they’re designed to autonomously gobble up garbage.
Emerging Tech

Climeworks wants to clean the atmosphere with a fleet of truck-sized vacuums

Using machines that resemble jet engines, Climeworks wants to fight climate change by extracting CO2 from thin air. The gas can then be sold to carbonated drink and agriculture companies, or sequestered underground.
Emerging Tech

How 3D printing has changed the world of prosthetic limbs forever

When he was 13 years old, Christophe Debard had his leg amputated. Here in 2019, Debard's Print My Leg startup helps others to create 3D-printed prostheses. Welcome to a growing revolution!
Emerging Tech

Geoengineering is risky and unproven, but soon it might be necessary

Geoengineering is a field dedicated to purposely changing the world's climate using technology. Call it 'playing god' if you must; here's why its proponents believe it absolutely must happen.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Earth Day, indoor container farming, robot submarines

Today on Digital Trends Live, we discuss how technology intersects with Earth Day, a new Tim Cook biography, indoor container farming, robot spy submarines, A.I. death metal, and more.
Gaming

Google’s Stadia is the future of gaming, and that’s bad news for our planet

Google’s upcoming Stadia cloud gaming service, and its competitors, are ready to change the way gamers play, but in doing so they may kick off a new wave of data center growth – with unfortunate consequences for the environment.