Space Plane Startup Promises One-Hour Rides to Anywhere on Earth

Traveling in a space plane is a lot like traveling in a regular plane, except for the middle part. After reaching cruising altitude, the pilot hits the rocket boosters and blasts the aircraft to the edge of space at more than 9,000 mph, or about 12 times the speed of sound. The plane travels at that speed for about 15 minutes, then glides against the atmosphere to slow itself down, cruising back to Earth to land at a conventional airport.

Venus Aerospace Corp., a startup pursuing a hypersonic space plane, is aiming to use this technique to ferry people from Los Angeles to Tokyo in about an hour.

The company was started by two former Virgin Orbit LLC employees: Sarah “Sassie” Duggleby, a code-writing launch engineer, and her husband, Andrew, who managed launch, payload, and propulsion operations. They became fascinated by hypersonic travel after missing…

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