April 19, 2001
4:21 AM   Subscribe

New York to LA in under 20 minutes?
With a cruising speed of 11,500 Km/h , NASA unveils a new plane designed to be world's fastest... Fasten your, um, seatbelts please.
posted by murray_kester (14 comments total)
And, coincidentally all of the engineers are arguing over how to pronounce Hyper-X, is it ecks or ten or? God damn marketing department. "We got megaflops"

Anyway, I'm betting there'd be at least a hundred conspiracy theories talking about this plan, area 51 and alien abductions by end of week.
posted by tiaka at 4:56 AM on April 19, 2001

Hate to point out the obvious...
"The $A369.11 million project is purely experimental. Engineers will collect flight data needed to build future planes perhaps 60.96 metres in length. The first piloted prototypes may fly by 2025.

Backers of the technology say air-breathing hypersonic propulsion could help space travel. The X-43A, or Hyper-X, will probably never carry commercial passengers because of the high acceleration, heat generated by friction with the atmosphere and the difficulty of turning a plane at such high speeds."
posted by yarf at 5:46 AM on April 19, 2001

How convenient!!, China takes one of our planes, and we just release a new one!!
posted by tonyramirez7 at 6:03 AM on April 19, 2001

Wouldn't it be more fun if they spent the money on developing George Jetson-style bubble cars? I don't need to fly anywhere at 6500 mph, but it sure would be neat to have a bubble car.
posted by briank at 6:23 AM on April 19, 2001

but it sure would be neat to have a bubble car.

That would be a DaimlerChrysler product.
posted by iceberg273 at 7:39 AM on April 19, 2001

Nah, that's just a car with a lot of glass. I want a car that flies on bubble-juice and steers with a joystick.
posted by briank at 7:48 AM on April 19, 2001

I want a car that folds up into a brief case.
posted by jennyb at 7:59 AM on April 19, 2001

I want to have rocket shoes and friends made out of bubbles.
posted by thebigpoop at 9:28 AM on April 19, 2001

I travel between Chicago and New York often for business. This is a 2 hour flight.

However, 2 hours is a FRACTION of the time that I spend waiting in the airports for delayed flights and cancelled flights, not to mention time spent waiting on the RUNWAY.

This technology is pie in the sky and will not affect us, the lowly consumers, in any way for hundreds of years, if ever.

BTW, some of the planes I fly on are older than me.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 2:45 PM on April 19, 2001

Do we really need this? I know I sound like a car sceptic in 1900, but the effects of travelling east-west at 650mph on a regular basis are bad enough. I sometimes pine for the days of the trans-Atlantic sea voyage, where your first experience of a country isn't the anodyne, sterilised environment of the international terminal. Time is the closest indicator we now have of cultural difference: the ten-hour flight from London to Delhi still, at least, reminds you that you're in somewhere else.

(The drive-ferry-drive from Amsterdam to London, for instance, feels somehow more meaningful than the 45 minute flight. Even though much of that meaning was, um, Belgium.)

Anyway, James Gleick talks about this, sort of.
posted by holgate at 7:18 PM on April 19, 2001

Even though much of that meaning was, um, Belgium.

Watch your mouth, please. There are chlidren here!

My first thought upon seeing this was to wonder how long a flight from New York to Paris would be. It looks like they'll beat Donald Fagen's I. G. Y. ("ninety minutes from New York to Paris") by a good margin. Although his was an undersea rail line, which is a good deal more impressive IMHO.
posted by kindall at 11:33 PM on April 19, 2001

holgate, the romantic in me wants to agree with you. The world was more interesting when it was bigger. With eighteen-hour flights to nearly anywhere, it's hard not to feel a sense of creeping homogenization.

But... when ocean crossings took weeks, they were once-in-a-lifetime adventures for rich people, and channels of last resort for the desperate. The speed of modern air travel may strip all the fun out of the journey, but it makes a whole new class of experience possible.

I imagine a future passenger-liner version of this jet as the difference between the opportunity to take a week-long vacation in some faraway place, and the opportunity to buzz off across the pond for the weekend. I sure have a lot more spare weekends than I do vacations... maybe I'd go to London two or three times a year instead of two or three times a decade.

For somebody - probably a lot of somebodies - it'll be just enough that they can go at all. Speed increases democratize travel.

posted by Mars Saxman at 10:34 AM on April 20, 2001

>>Speed increases democratize travel.

It's true that more people can go places, but speed also makes more places more similar.

The differences between Prague and Buffalo NY (and naturally there are more than a few) are much less than they were at the turn of the century. And a lot of that has to do with the fact that McDonald's, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut have significant presences in both places....
posted by kafclown at 11:55 AM on April 21, 2001

As kafclown points out, there is a downside. The upside is that I can get Pilsner Urquell for 6 bucks a sixpack. An extremely one-sided cultural exchange, but I'm happy to do what I can for the Czech economy!
posted by gimli at 12:38 PM on April 21, 2001

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