KEY POINTS

  • The Chinese firm released an animated video showing passengers aboard a 12-seater plane
  • The plane is projected to be able to travel at 7,000 kilometers per hour
  • The firm will launch a complete full-scale global hypersonic flight by 2030

China could be planning to build a hypersonic space plane that could take passengers from Shanghai to New York in just two hours. 

Space Transportation, a company based in Beijing, China, has released an animated publicity video showing passengers aboard a 12-seater plane that launches directly into the sky. The space plane, flanked by two titanic booster rockets, is projected to be able to travel at 7,000 kilometers per hour. This means the travel time from Shanghai to New York by flight will be cut down from 15 hours to two hours. 

The Chinese firm aims to launch its hypersonic space plane on a suborbital test flight in 2025. The firm also said it will launch a “complete full-scale global hypersonic vehicle flight by 2030.” It is unclear how much each flight would cost its passengers. 

The initiative appears to be the embodiment of China’s foray into the lucrative business of space tourism. The project is being backed by key Chinese investors. In August 2021, the firm garnered an estimated $47 million in initial financing from Matrix Partners China and the Shanghai Guosheng Group, a state-owned industrial investment firm, according to CNN.

China’s latest venture into space tourism comes as SpaceX’s Polaris Dawn mission is slated to launch this year. The ship is expected to spend five days in orbit. During that time, the ship’s crew will be attempting the first commercial spacewalk.   

Later this year, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin is expected to fly Grenada diplomat and Tron founder Justin Sun, along with five crewmates, aboard the reusable New Shepard rocket. The spaceship is fully autonomous, meaning there are no pilots controlling the rocket. 

China’s Space Transportation would not be the first company to attempt the development of a hypersonic plane. Venus Aerospace, a company based in Houston, has raised a total of $33 million for a project aiming to develop a spaceplane that could fly passengers from Los Angeles to Tokyo in one hour. For reference, non-stop flights from Los Angeles to Tokyo could take anywhere between 11 to 13 hours. 

Venus Aerospace’s hypersonic plane is expected to travel 12 times faster than the speed of sound and reach an altitude of 150,000 feet.  

Shooter and Controler prepare an F/A-18E Super Hornet to be catapulted off from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in the Gulf Shooter and Controler prepare an F/A-18E Super Hornet to be catapulted off from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in the Gulf, November 23, 2019. Photo: Reuters / HAMAD I MOHAMMED