Earlier this week, Houston-based aerospace startup Venus Aerospace released renders for Stargazer, an incredibly fast high-altitude vehicle it hopes to develop.
Venus Aerospace has been working on the hypersonic plane since 2020, company says Press release, and he raised $33 million to build the plane, $1 million of which came from government funding. Hypersonic refers to Vehicles or missiles capable of traveling at Mach 5 or faster, and Stargazer has the potential to reach Mach 9, which is nine times the speed of sound. The vehicle is designed to accommodate 12 passengers as it travels at an altitude of 170,000 feet (51.8 kilometers), the company said in an email.
Even though Venus Aerospace calls Stargazer a “space plane,” the vehicle won’t actually venture into space. The technique space border is still about 30 miles (50 kilometers) higher than Stargazer’s maximum altitude, so the plane won’t go beyond the Kármán line – sort of like how space balloons don’t really go into space either. That said, passengers will still have unobstructed views, with the curvature of the Earth clearly visible.
The Stargazer is expected to carry passengers from Tokyo to Los Angeles in an hour. Imagine you could gallop around Shibuya Crossing and climb the Skytree for a few hours, only to be back home on the West Coast before dinnertime. It’s definitely an improvement over the 11-flight time on a commercial aircraft.
Stargazer would take off using engines like a conventional aircraft, but then “switch to rockets once at altitude and away from [the] city,” Andrew Duggleby, CTO of Venus Aerospace, told me in an email. Stargazer’s first ground test is not expected to take place until 2025 at the earliest, and there would be “no less than five years of flight testing to ensure safety, reliability and performance”, he said. added.
Ideally, Stargazer tickets would be about the same price as a first-class ticket on commercial aircraft, but Duggleby said a number of variables still need to be worked out to determine that price.
If and when Stargazer takes off, the promise of jet-setting across the globe at ridiculous speeds will be incredibly alluring to a certain group who can afford it, even if he does not cross the threshold of the inky void. That said, eince the crash of a Concorde plane in July 2000, the public has rightly been concerned about supersonic vehicles. So, in addition to the engineering challenges, Venus Aerospace will likely also have to overcome some psychological hurdles.
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