A prototype of a semi-automatic bullet that travels at speeds faster than the speed of sound, according to a new paper published in the Royal Aeronautical Society Journal, could revolutionize commercial travel.
The bullet — or supersonic catcalls — are designed to shift the relationship between human and machine throughout a journey. Plane passengers become merely gliding passengers, or ground-breaking journalists aboard helicopters, with their own vehicles.
The bullet is made of special materials and uses propulsion inside a rocket-powered rocket generator. It shoots the bullet forward at about 11,000 mph (18,100 kph), which is almost two-thirds faster than a Mach 2.0 passenger jet.
According to Nicholas F. Moyer of the University of Colorado, Golden and other researchers, the bullet is less likely to show signs of fatigue or bumpiness during its route, and could therefore create an even more enjoyable travel experience.
“With this project, we put the practicality of the bullet in the hands of the people who would actually fly it, to gauge the level of comfort and number of passengers who might want to board a supersonic passenger jet and have a real taste of flying at supersonic speeds,” he says.
Once a mainstay of military aircraft, the supersonic jet flew until 1972. It remains out of production.
“Is the bullet that would allow airlines to fly even faster that practical in a short timetable? That is the question that arises in our work,” Moyer says. “Right now, that question is answered in the affirmative.”