TECH
21/10/2013 05:13 BST | Updated 20/12/2013 05:12 GMT

Virgin Galactic Takes Aim At Successor To Concorde?

Virgin Galactic has announced that it might use technology developed to fly tourists to space as the basis for a successor to Concorde.

The possibility of super-fast flights that could take passengers from London to Australia in just a couple of hours has been raised plenty of times before.

But until now no company has managed to combine their predictions or ambitions with functioning current-gen technology.

Virgin thinks it might be the first, now that its Galactic flights are (almost) ready to lift off. Its multi-stage space planes, which are carried to about 50,000 feet via a 'mothership' before being dropped and blasting off with a high-altitude rocket into the low atmosphere, could be a key to very fast long distance flight.

Virgin Galactic's commercial director Stephen Attenborough told the Wired 2013 conference that his spaceships might be the first to make the long-long haul.

"If we can get this first step right, take people into space and keep them safe in commercially viable aircraft, the aim to try and push long haul aviation above the fragile atmosphere into space," he said.

"This should be environmentally a lot better." He added, jokingly, that the 2.5-hour flight to Australia would be "followed by three hours in immigration, probably".

Attenborough also described what being a passenger on Virgin Galactic might be like:

""Just when you are getting used to the noise, vibration, g-forces, the sheer -- I was going to say terror -- the sheer thrill of it all, then they cut the rocket motors out," said Attenborough. "So you suddenly weigh nothing at all. There's no point being in zero gravity if you are just going to be strapped to a chair."

Tickets to ride on the Virgin Galactic roller-coaster are currently set at $250,000.