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Sunday, June 19, 2011

London to Tokyo in two hours: Blueprints for 3,000mph hypersonic plane are unveiled... but it'll take 40 years to build - 19th June 2011

Plans for a pollution-free ‘rocket-plane’ which could cut the flying time from London to Tokyo by more than a quarter to just two-and-a-half hours have been unveiled in Paris.

The 3000mph hypersonic jet, codenamed ZEHST, would travel 20 miles up in the sky and cut the journey time from the minimum 11 hours 20 minutes it currently takes to reach Japan.

It could be in the skies within a decade, with commercial flights at four times the speed of sound pencilled in for 40 years-time.

New York would take less than an hour-and-a-half, while popular holiday destinations in southern Europe like Nice or Malaga would take a few minutes.

Even the journey to Sydney, Australia, which currently take the best part of 24 hours, would be cut to around three-and-a-half.

‘I imagine that this is the plane of the future,’ said Jean Botti, of European space agency EADS, as he unveiled the project the day before the Paris Air Show opens.

ZEHST stands for Zero Emission Hypersonic Transportation, which effectively means that the plane will cause no pollution whatsoever, said Mr Botti.

Instead it will be powered by oxygen and hydrogen, which will produce an exhaust made of nothing but water vapour.

Its cruising altitude will be 20 miles up, compared to the 32,000 odd feet which passenger jets reach today.

Take-off engines will be powered by biofuel made from seaweed, before rocket engines are used at altitude.

‘There will be no pollution because the plane will be in the stratosphere,’ said Mr Botti, pointing out that the plane will glide back to earth on no engines before they are reignited to land.

Mr Botti added: ‘It will be flying at the edge of space. It won’t be a rocket. It won’t be a plane. It will be a rocket-plane.’ Read More