China successfully tests hypersonic airliner technology: Reports

Science China Press

The Nanqiang No 1, a model likely to be a technology demonstrator for a hypersonic airliner, has finished the first phase of testing, according to Chinese media.

The model, which is referred to as a prototype, has been tested in a laboratory in Fujian Province, China, the South China Morning Post reports.

According to the report, the aircraft weighs 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds). Scientists involved in the project expect to finish the testing program and transition to building a flyable prototype by 2025.

While the report does not explain what kind of tests were conducted, a photograph attached to the document suggests that it could have been wind tunnel testing.

An actual prototype is now expected to fly by 2028. It will be powered by a set of turbofan, rocket and ramjet engines, will be capable of seating up to 10 passengers, and able to reach speeds of up to Mach 6 (six times the speed of sound), the report explained.

According to previous reports, the unnamed Chinese hypersonic airliner is expected to enter production by 2035.

China is one of several countries to heavily invest in hypersonic vehicles (vehicles that can fly more than five times the speed of sound). 

The development of the hypersonic airliner follows earlier announcements of numerous hypersonic weapon tests conducted in the country.

Several Western companies, including Hermeus and Exosonic, have also announced that they are currently developing a hypersonic aircraft that could be used for both civilian and military purposes.

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