Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) is investing in a new technology for supersonic flight, the first such effort since British Airways shut down the Concorde in 2003. An outside investor has chipped in $164 million to kick-start the project, Space Tourism Curacao, which could theoretically connect any two cities on Earth within two hours' flight.
A test model of the space jet is set to debut next spring, and its owners aim to start commercial flights from the Caribbean island of Curacao in 2014. That said, regularly scheduled flights from major cities may take another two decades to appear.
The craft is essentially a spaceship, with the breakthrough technology of a reusable engine.
Passengers will be required to pass physical tests to fly on the craft just as a flight attendant must for today's ordinary planes. Passengers must be prepared to travel at speeds of up to 13,750 mph.
The new craft—called the Lynx—hasn't even been built yet, but about 40 people have already bought $90,000 tickets for rides on an early version. One of them, Anton Kriel, explained to British papers: "I will no longer have to listen to people who brag about their new Aston Martin."
One of the problems that the Concorde faced was its sonic "boom" whenever it broke the sound barrier, which tended to scare the heck out of residents down on earth. New technology could minimize the sound of the boom, allowing this new craft to fly above populated areas without frightening locals.
The Concorde flew 2.5 million passengers in its years of service.
Here's an (over-the-top) promotional video for the new two-hours-to-anywhere-flights:
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