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Japanese supersonic airliner is go

Successful test

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Japan this morning successfully tested an 11.5m-long propotype of its Next Generation Supersonic Transport (SST) at Australia's Woomera range.

The successful SST test

The SST was carried to around 59,000 feet strapped under a rocket after which it separated and flew for 15 minutes at Mach 1.9-2 before parachuting back to earth. A Japanese space agency (JAXA) spokeswoman told AFP: "It went well, it was successful," which must come as a great relief to the agency after the first model crashed and burned three years ago when the vehicle detached prematurely from the rocket.

The SSTBack in August, JAXA spokesman Takaaki Akuto confirmed the agency had "made some improvements" to the SST. He admitted: "This is a pretty important test."

As we previously noted, the SST's success ultimately depends on tackling two problems which limited Concorde - fuel consumption and noise. JAXA reckons it can address these through the aircraft's shape, improved jet engines and the use of composite materials. It says the SST will fly twice the distance of Concorde and produce just "one quarter of the nitrogen oxide emissions, and having noise levels no greater than today's conventional jumbo jets*".

For those of an aeronautical bent, there's a flight analysis (PDF) available here at the JAXA website. You can see an overview of the project here. ®

Bootnote

*Thanks to those readers who wrote back in August to point out that a Jumbo still makes one hell of a racket. Duly noted.

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