RICHARD THE GREAT
As proved by the accompanying piece about the ins-outs-ups-and/or-downs of air cargo shipping, Richard Branson knows a few things about moving things in the air, whether those things are people or products and whether it’s with a plane, space vehicle or balloon.
You might say the guy is just not comfortable staying in any one place for too long and, true to his nature, he’s flying far and wide on what he thinks will be the next hot things in air commerce.
One is supersonic transportation. Branson, through Virgin Galactic, will help a Denver-based startup, Boom, build a new generation of supersonic jets, the first 10 of which Galactic will have the option to buy. The jets would, conceivably, cut down flight times by half. That Los Angeles to Sydney, 15-hour backbreaker? You could soon be doing that in the time it takes for a couple Jennifer Aniston rom coms, dinner and a quick nap–about six or seven hours.
“I have long been passionate about aerospace innovation and the development of high-speed commercial flights,” Branson said. “As an innovator in the space, Virgin Galactic’s decision to work with Boom was an easy one.”
And once Branson had committed, it was just as easy for others to see the light. In December, Japan Airlines invested $10 million in Boom with options to buy up to 20 aircraft, hopeful that the startup will develop a plane with cruising speeds upwards of 1,450 miles per hour or Mach 2.2.
“This is the kind of innovation,” Branson has said, “that will change the future of transportation and the future of how we do business.”
Ah yes, business. No matter how minded and innovative Branson is sounding, he never strays far from business, and there is no doubt that a world with jets that can go from London to New York–gate to gate–in about three hours, tremendous possibilities emerge for the future of air cargo.
If you ever doubt that commerce is far from the man’s mind in this new supersonic world, witness what his Virgin Hyperloop One is proposing to do in India and, eventually, the world. It’s another innovative way to move people and goods through the air, albeit it a few inches off the ground, via technology that would use magnetic levitation in low-pressure tubes to move them at airplane-like speeds.
Branson has signed a preliminary agreement for a broad hyperloop framework, including a demonstration track that will be built in two to three years, with a second phase to include a complete construction of a full Pune-Mumbai route in five to seven years.
“I believe Virgin Hyperloop One could have the same impact upon India in the 21st century as trains did in the 20th century,” Branson has said.
And, if recent history is any lesson, if Richard Branson believes something will happen, you can pretty much be guaranteed he will make it happen.
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