A company called Venus Aerospace Corp. pursues a hypersonic space plane that has the potential to transport people from Los Angeles to Tokyo in about an hour. Travel in their proposed space plane would take off from the ground like a conventional airplane and fly to a high cruising altitude. Once at that cruising altitude, a rocket thruster would ignite and push the aircraft to the edge of space at over 9,000 mph.
This is about 12 times the speed of sound. The plane would travel at this incredible speed for about 15 minutes before sliding against the atmosphere to slow down and eventually land at a conventional airport just as it took off. Venus was founded by two former employees of Virgin Orbit LLC, and the company currently has 15 employees.
Most of the workers are space industry veterans. Efforts to create a space plane have failed in the past, but the team believes their efforts will work. The company points to its more efficient engine allowing the aircraft to withstand the extra weight that comes with the wings, landing gear and jet engines for takeoffs and landings.
Venus admits that it is not close to performing test flights and that the shape of the plane is still under development. Model trials are slated to begin this summer, and Venus has secured a research grant from the US Air Force. The company is also seeking funding from the Ministry of Defense. Once it has raised enough money to complete the project, the company estimates it will take around a decade or more.
Venus also admits that there are mysteries in their business plan. It is not known how much a flight could cost and whether enough people would be willing to pay the likely large premium over a conventional flight to save a few hours.