Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Elon Musk's next big project could be supersonic jet

The entrepreneur, who also co-founded electric car company Tesla Motors, expressed frustration that Concorde was decommissioned in 2003 without any replacement.
He said that supersonic air travel in an electric-powered aircraft that could take off and land without the need for a long runway was the “ultimate form of transport”.
He said that although his hands were full with his other projects, which include developing a mission to Mars, he wanted to set up a company to build such an aircraft in the future.
Since announcing the project last month, which he described as a “fifth form of transport”, speculation has been rife about how it would work.
Speaking during an online Google "Hangout" event with Virgin founder Richard Branson, Musk said envisaged long journeys over 1,000 miles being done in a supersonic plane.
He said: “If I were to start another company in the future, which I don’t think is going to be anytime soon, it would be to create an aircraft that is a supersonic, vertical take-off and landing electric jet.
“I think that is the ultimate form of transport.
“I wish someone would do that. If somebody doesn’t do that then maybe at some point in the future I will.”
Concorde was one of two supersonic passenger aircraft to be used commercially and was capable of flying between London and New York in around three hours and 30 minutes.
Only 20 were ever built and following an accident with an Air France Concorde in 2000, they were withdrawn from service.
The Tupolev Tu-144 was a supersonic aircraft designed in the Soviet Union was the only other supersonic passenger plane but was withdrawn after only 55 flights.
Air travel has taken backwards step
Musk said he felt air travel had taken a backwards step when the industry abandoned supersonic flight.
He said: “I get a little sad when things are not getting better in the future.
“An example would be like the concord being retired and the fact there is no supersonic passenger transport.
“I think that is sad. You want the future to be better than the past, or at least I do.
He added that a vertical take-off electric-powered plane would be quieter than conventional aircraft and would be environmentally friendlier.
He added: “As it is supersonic it would be fast. If you fly high enough and have the right geometry of plane, you can make the sonic boom no louder than current planes.
The “vertical take-off and landing part means you could land much closer to your destination instead of landing at these huge airports with super long runways.”
However, for anyone hoping that Musk will be turning his attention to this project in the near future he added that he still had his hands full with his other companies, Tesla and SpaceX.
(Source: Daily Telegraph)