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Japanese Resumes Testing of Supersonic Jet

26 August 2005

Japan’s space agency, JAXA, has confirmed plans to launch its prototype supersonic airplane at twice the speed of sound high over the Australian outback as early as next month in the steps to develop a successor to concorde.

The testing will hopefully be more successful than the previous test, some three years ago, which separated from its booster rocket and crashed into the desert.

""We've made some improvements so that won't happen again,"" Takaaki Akuto, a spokesman for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, said Tuesday in Tokyo. ""This is a pretty important test.""

The next generation supersonic jetliner is expected to reach speeds faster than Mach 2, while carrying three times as many passengers as the Concorde, travelling twice the cruising distance, producing 1/4 the nitrogen oxide emissions, and having noise levels no greater than today's conventional jumbo jets.

The success of the testing mission will bolster the agreement made in June this year between French and Japanese companies who agreed earlier to split an annual research budget of about $1.84 million over the next three years to develop the new jet.

JAXA will launch the experimental craft, again piggybacked on a rocket, at Australia's Woomera test range between September 15 and October 15. The rocket will carry the plane to an altitude of 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) before releasing it at a speed of Mach 2 to collect information about the plane's aerodynamics. The craft will float back to earth by parachute after the 15 minute flight.

Japanese companies slated to participate in the French joint venture include Japan Aircraft Development Corp., a non-profit consortium; government's space agency Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. and Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co. French companies will be European Aeronautic Defence and Space and Safran Group, formerly Snecma-Sagem.

Japan hopes to have a successor making regular flights by 2020.






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