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Sunday, February 09, 2014

Big Engineering 61 Vertical Take Off Electric, Possibly Supersonic, Aircraft

    This is from Elon Musk in the Telegraph:

[Elon] said that supersonic air travel in an electric-powered aircraft that could take off and land without the need for a long runway was the “ultimate form of transport”.

He said that although his hands were full with his other projects, which include developing a mission to Mars, he wanted to set up a company to build such an aircraft in the future.

Musk is due to reveal plans to another of his projects, an intercity transport system called the Hyperloop, on Monday.
 
Since announcing the project last month, which he described as a “fifth form of transport”, speculation has been rife about how it would work.

Speaking during an online Google "Hangout" event with Virgin founder Richard Branson, Musk said envisaged long journeys over 1,000 miles being done in a supersonic plane. 

He said: “If I were to start another company in the future, which I don’t think is going to be anytime soon, it would be to create an aircraft that is a supersonic, vertical take off and landing electric jet.

“I think that is the ultimate form of transport. 
“I wish someone would do that. If somebody doesn’t do that then maybe at some point in the future I will.”....

He added that a vertical take-off electric-powered plane would be quieter than conventional aircraft and would be environmentally friendlier. 

He added: “As it is supersonic it would be fast. If you fly high enough and have the right geometry of plane, you can make the sonic boom no louder than current planes.

“The vertical take-off and landing part means you could land much closer to your destination instead of landing at these huge airports with super long runways.”

However, for anyone hoping that Musk will be turning his attention to this project in the near future he added that he still had his hands full with his other companies, Tesla and SpaceX.
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     I probably wouldn't go for making the first version supersonic - lets go step by step, though I will accept he knows what he is talking about when he says it is possible to make supersonic craft no louder than conventional ones now. That is a game changer.

    Making them electric is not something I would have thought possible up to now, but again, am willing to learn. Indeed I intend to expand on this inn a few days..

    Electric planes could be expected to be much cheaper (& safer) on lift off which makes vertical take off from extensive city centre airports practical and ultimately common. That on its own would be revolutionary.

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    I am a little concerned that Elon Musk may become a challenger to my own title of Greatest Technological Innovator Of The 21st century. He has been responsible for Paypal; SpaceX commercial space travel; the Tesla car (currently a rich man's toy but looking likely to break into mass market); Hyperlink & now VTOL electric supersonic craft. All of these are fit to be included in my Big Engineering list as world changing. I have always acknowledged that that list was largely of other people's ideas and only
#50 Remote handling working
 #48 World campaign against malaria , #43 Hibernaculum
 #42 SPACE ELEVATORS NOT JUST ON THE EQUATOR
#41 Using 1 nuclear pulse rocket to create a Space Elevator
#40 Prize for computer programme to judge international law #37 Colonising the Oort cloud & beyond
 #30 A Ringworld #29 Greening the Arctic #28 An O'Neill Cylinder factory
#27 Greening Palestine #26 Reversing sea level rise
#24 Greening Central Asia #22 An international grid
#15 Draining the Solway Firth 
#9 Greening the Sahara plus launching nuclear pulse rockets from Antarctica, Ascension Island as Atlantic spaceport and arguably the Scottish Tunnel Project are essentially original to me. Giving Musk some brownie points for actually doing these rather than just blogging them and assuming he keeps coming up with ideas at the most recent rate he could be some competition.
 

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