Time is Precious; let's Not Waste It
If I told you that you could travel to any far-off location in the world and arrive there in one hour, would this excite you? Venus Aerospace aims to do that with its Stargazer, a Mach 9 hypersonic space plane. The real question is, “Is Mach 9, or 9 times the speed of sound, feasible in commercial travel?”. A company called Venus Aerospace is banking on this possibility and has received backing from multiple sources to make this form of transportation a reality.
Venus Aerospace, founded in 2020, chose Houston, Texas, as its base of operations, given the ample space to test and fire off rocket engines, control drones, and fly planes. Given this program is still in its infancy, you can expect it will be a good deal of time before one hour's travel from LA to Tokyo will be achieved. There are so many hurdles this means of transportation will have to overcome, not the least of which is the cooling issue. As illustrated in the diagram below, the outermost portions of the aircraft will be subjected to a tremendous amount of friction (Hence the yellow heat signature outlining the plane).
Sound from this space plane is also an issue, which may already be solved at 170,000 feet. This seems to be the sweet spot to have the sound dissipate in the lower atmosphere. Venus is also working with various means of fuel to reduce or eliminate the carbon footprint of Stargazer. Not only will Stargazer achieve great speed, but it aims to do so without carbon emissions.
This method of transportation will be able to carry 12 passengers, and the goal is to have it take off from conventional airports using existing infrastructure to keep the costs down. Which brings us to the cost of such a flight? Venus plans on making this experience affordable, but to whom? Also, whose definition of “affordable”? With only 12 passengers per flight, the cost would be shared by these 12 individuals. The truth is, they have no idea what a flight like this will cost today. Venus Aerospace has a concept and a dream. It will be years before this is realized, but it doesn’t hurt to dream!