Is it really possible to fly from London to New York in 20 minutes? With a new rocket-powered jet, that just might be the case. Imagine the possibilities of being able to fly across the ocean faster than it takes to travel from central London to the suburbs or to travel half-way around the world from London to Sydney is just our 30 minutes; this could change the face of modern transportation.
The Antipode jet is more than just your typical jet—it uses twin rocket boosters on the wings to hit Mach 5 after takeoff, and then a ramjet takes the plane to 24 times the speed of sound, roughly 18,264 miles per hour, once it hits 40,000 feet. Right before landing, the rocket booster turn off, helping the plane land safely. The jet’s wings would have enough lift to allow it to land on a standard 6,000 foot runway.
What Happened to the Concorde?
The current fastest jet, Concorde, which could fly at a staggeringly fast pace before it was grounded in 2003, would be 10 times slower than the Antipode.
The goal of the jet is create an aircraft concept capable of reaching its antipode, or diametrical opposite, as quickly as possible.
Created by Canadian designer Charles Bombardier, the Antipode uses “long penetration mode” (LPM) to channel air at supersonic speed through a nozzle that prevents it from overheating. The main holdup to developing a jet like this previously was the overheating issue—traveling at such high speeds naturally creates incredibly high heat that can be too much for most materials to handle, with planes heating up to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit once they hit Mach 5.
LPM: What is the Solution?
Once an engineer reached out to Bombardier with the LPM solution, they were able to design the rocket that would travel quickly without overheating. However, LPM works best on rockets designed for outer space, meaning that Antipode’s airplane-like wings could cause a complication with the system and cause things to not run as smoothly as predicted.
The system “would channel some of the air, flowing at supersonic speed, through a nozzle located on the nose of the aircraft, producing a counter-flowing jet of air that would induce LPM, which would in turn lead to a drop in surface temperature due to aeroheating and a reduction of the shockwave and noise caused by breaking the sound barrier,” Bombardier explained.
Bombardier’s previous project was designing the Skreemr, a four-winged scramjet that can carry 75 passengers and travel up to speeds of Mach 10. A Scramjet uses an innovative propulsion system that combusts liquid oxygen it gathers from oxygen extracted from the atmosphere as it flies.
How will the Antipode Jet Be Different?
Other jets carry the liquid oxygen on board, which adds weight and limits their travel speeds; however, not even NASA has been able to create a successful scramjet engine, showing the difficulty of implementing the conceptual technology. The Skreemr was a high-concept jet with some shortcomings, many of which have been addressed in Bombardier’s latest design.
The Antipode jet uses different technology to achieve similar results—a lightweight jet that reaches amazing speeds. Because of its fast speeds, the Antipode jet would only sit 10 people, which means ticket prices would likely be astronomical if the jet ever hits the mainstream market.
The jet opens up new worlds of travel possibilities, especially to get government leaders, military officials, or business executives around the world in under an hour. Bombardier estimates that each plane would cost $150 million to build. Don’t book your tickets, yet, however; the jet is currently only a concept that Bombardier is sharing to encourage others to share their ideas.
“I wanted to help get funding to do more research, and so I tried to push the whole thing forward,” he said. “I know that it’s not going to lead to the exact aircraft at the end, but it might help to develop new technologies and new processes. If it does, then that I’m happy that I did something to help society.”
With innovative design and an attention-grabbing speed, the future of air travel might be closer than we think.