Superjet desert tests pave way for ultra-fast commercial flights

The future of long-distance travel is looking more exciting than ever — forget Amtrak, we'll have a Hyperloop. And what about flights? Work has been underway to create a so-called 'superjet' able to travel at ridiculously fast speeds, and that technology was recently successfully tested in the Australian desert. The effort, a collaboration between U.S. and Australian military research teams, involves hypersonic technology able to take planes from Sydney to London in a mere two hours.

According to the AFP, the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation team sent an experimental rocket to an altitude of 278 kilometers during a trial yesterday, hitting speeds of Mach 7.5. The team's goal has been creating an engine able to fly at Mach 7, eventually leading to the development of a commercial plane that could take travelers very long distances in relatively tiny amounts of time.

The research team will be conducting a total of 10 trial runs in South Australia at Woomera, and at Andoya Rocket Range in Norway. It'll be a while before the next test takes place, though, as it is scheduled to happen next year. In that case, the team will use a scramjet engine operating on its own, off the rocket booster.

In addition to being able to travel long distances very quickly, the scramjet could also be more economical in terms of fuel usage — it involves a supersonic combustion engine that pulls oxygen from the air and uses that for fuel. As such, the contraption is lighter (and faster) than typical rockets that have to transport a bunch of fuel.