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Virgin Galactic puts a major focus on the future of supersonic aircraft travel as it unveils a new high-speed Mach 3 design concept in partnership with Rolls-Royce. SPCE stock is down today in the pre-market.
Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc (NYSE: SPCE), the space tourism wing of the Virgin Empire, has joined hands with British aerospace giant Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC to develop a Mach 3 high-speed supersonic travel aircraft. The two companies will work together “in designing and developing engine propulsion technology for high-speed commercial aircraft.”
Meanwhile, on Monday, Virgin Galactic (SPCE) stock surged 7% ending the day at $24. The company’s valuations currently stand at $5.05 billion. However, today SPCE stock lost nearly 8% in the pre-market, reaching $22.11.
Virgin Galactic is betting big on supersonic travel for the long-term. With Mach 3 speeds, the new commercial high-speed aircraft will travel three times the speed of sound. This will be certainly faster than the Mach 2 speeds attained by the original Concorde aircraft.
Virgin Galactic unveiled the design concept on Monday as part of The Mission Concept Review. The review process included representatives from NASA who concluded “design concept can meet the high-level requirements and objectives of the mission”. Previously, Virgin Galactic signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA to work on high-speed technologies.
As per the press release, the Mach 3 high-speed supersonic aircraft will have seating arrangements for 9-19 people. Besides, it will also have custom cabin layouts with First Class seating arrangements. Speaking on their cooperation with Rolls-Royce, George Whitesides, Chief Space Officer at Virgin Galactic, said:
“We are excited to complete the Mission Concept Review and unveil this initial design concept of a high speed aircraft, which we envision as blending safe and reliable commercial travel with an unrivalled customer experience. We are pleased to collaborate with the innovative team at Rolls-Royce as we strive to develop sustainable, cutting-edge propulsion systems for the aircraft.
Whitesides also lauded the company for its progress so far and added that they “look forward to opening up a new frontier in high-speed travel”.
Rolls-Royce Long History with Aircraft Engine and Its Work with Virgin Galactic
While Rolls-Royce may be more popular as a luxury car brand, it has for decades making some very powerful aircraft engines. In fact, Rolls Royce has also made engines powering the supersonic Concorde aircraft. Rolls-Royce North America Chairman & CEO Tom Bell said:
“We are excited to partner with Virgin Galactic and TSC to explore the future of sustainable high-speed flight. Rolls-Royce brings a unique history in high speed propulsion, going back to the Concorde, and offers world-class technical capabilities to develop and field the advanced propulsion systems needed to power commercially available high-Mach travel.”
This partnership will take the supersonic aircraft travel industry to new heights. As per some Wall Street analysts, the supersonic aircraft industry will completely disrupt the commercial airline industry.
Last December 2019, Morgan Staley said that by 2040, the high-speed aircraft industry will be worth $800 billion. Virgin Galactic has also previously received $20 million from Boeing‘s venture arm.