PHOTO: Jet contrails over Utah. (Photo via Flickr/Mike Lewinski)
Boom Supersonic has successfully raised $33 million to fund the construction and eventual flight of its first supersonic passenger jet, which is excellent news for anyone hoping to one day make the trip from New York to London in just over three hours.
According to Tech Crunch, the funding is enough to develop the XB-1, a one-third-scale prototype version of the airliner that the Colorado-based company hopes will be operating commercial flights in the coming years.
"This funds our first airplane, all the way through flight tests," Boom founder and CEO Blake Scholl told Tech Crunch. "Now we have all the pieces we need—technology, suppliers and capital—to go out and make some history and set some speed records."
The XB-1, which is nicknamed "Baby Boom," will be capable of reaching a high speed of Mach 2.2, or 1,451 mph. That would cut flight times between destinations like Sydney and Los Angeles in half.
Boom's total funding has now reached $41 million, with new investors including 8VC, Caffeinated Capital, Palm Drive Ventures, RRE Ventures and YC’s Continuity Fund, according to Tech Crunch. Interestingly, the build cost of the XB-1 is only about $13 million. A majority of the money will go toward funding the engineering team and growing the company.
Boom unveiled its prototype back in November and has already begun wind tunnel testing.
"We’re about to do structural tests, and then we’re probably about a year away from flight," Scholl told Tech Crunch.
The first flight was originally slated for late 2017, but commercial flights aren't expected to launch until 2023.
"This isn’t science fiction. (It would be) if I was telling you it was going to go Mach 4 — but, I’m not," Scholl told the Guardian last year. "We’re not using any technology that doesn’t already exist, it is just putting it together in the right way. It will still be tested rigorously."
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Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, which entered into a $2 billion partnership with the company last year, has already secured the first order. Boom plans to reveal new customers later this year.
Although supersonic jet travel sounds like something only the super-rich will ever get to experience, tickets would be relatively affordable for many travelers at reported $2,500 one-way.