Virgin Galactic, a vertically integrated aerospace and space travel company, which includes its manufacturer of advanced air and space vehicles, The Spaceship Company, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Rolls-Royce to collaborate in designing and developing engine propulsion technology for high speed commercial aircraft.
This marks a forward in Virgin Galactic’s development of a new generation of high speed aircraft, in partnership with industry and government leaders. Rolls-Royce has a proven record of delivering high Mach propulsion, powering the only civil-certified commercial aircraft (Concorde) capable of supersonic flight.
George Whitesides, Chief Space Officer, Virgin Galactic said: “We are excited to complete the Mission Concept Review and unveil this initial design concept of a high speed aircraft, which we envision as blending safe and reliable commercial travel with an unrivalled customer experience.
“We are pleased to collaborate with the innovative team at Rolls-Royce as we strive to develop sustainable, cutting-edge propulsion systems for the aircraft, and we are pleased to be working with the FAA to ensure our designs can make a practical impact from the start.
“We have made great progress so far, and we look forward to opening up a new frontier in high speed travel.”
“We are excited to partner with Virgin Galactic and TSC to explore the future of sustainable high speed flight,” said Rolls-Royce North America Chairman & CEO Tom Bell. “Rolls-Royce brings a unique history in high speed propulsion, going back to the Concorde, and offers world-class technical capabilities to develop and field the advanced propulsion systems needed to power commercially available high-Mach travel.”
The basic parameters of the initial high speed aircraft design include a targeted Mach 3 certified delta-wing aircraft that would have capacity for 9 to 19 people at an altitude above 60,000 feet and would also be able to incorporate custom cabin layouts to address customer needs, including Business or First Class seating arrangements.