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China wants to launch hypersonic flights more than three times the speed of Concorde

Space Transportation’s aircraft will get from Shanghai to New York in just two hours

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham

One mile per second. Just take a moment to think about how fast that is. That’s over 3,600 miles per hour. If an aircraft goes that fast, it officially goes ‘hypersonic’ – meaning that it exceeds five times the speed of sound. It is, by all means, frighteningly speedy.

Excitingly, such mega-fast flights could soon become a reality. A Chinese tech firm called Space Transportation (also known as Beijing Lingkong Tianxing Technology) has announced that it wants to have a full commercial service of hypersonic planes running by as soon as 2030. 

Space Transportation’s designs show planes travelling as fast as 7,000 kilometres per hour. They’ll be able to get from Shanghai to New York – which is usually a-15 hour flight – in just two hours. For context, Concorde’s top speed was 2,179 km/h.

The Shanghai-based company’s planes will more closely resemble rockets than traditional airplanes. And because they’ll be launched up to the edge of the atmosphere before coming back down to their destination, they’ll technically be classed as ‘space flights’. From the website’s promotional video, it also looks like they’ll require both a vertical take-off and landing.

So how realistic is all this for yer average man? Well, it could all actually happen quite soon. In August, Space Transportation announced that it had already raised 300 million yuan (£35 million or $45.8 million) to finance the project, and flight tests are already underway. Manned test flights are set to begin in 2025, with a commercial service planned by the end of the decade.  

If you want a sneak peek at Space Transportation’s plans, you can view some fancy computer-generated videos on the official website here.

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