Supersonic startup Boom unveils XB-1 prototype, begins flight testing

  • Boom Supersonic just unveiled the prototype for its supersonic commercial jet that’s slated to bring a new era of ultra-fast travel.
  • The XB-1 demonstrator will begin flight testing in 2021 to prove viable the technology that will power the larger, Concorde-like Overture passenger plane.
  • Development of the Overture will continue concurrently with the XB-1’s flight testing for a planned 2025 debut.
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The days of supersonic travel are almost here again and leading the charge isn’t Airbus or Boeing, but smaller startups including one Colorado-based aviation firm that just rolled out a flyable prototype.

Boom Supersonic has been at the forefront for the relaunch of supersonic commercial flight with a design of its own, the Overture, a Concorde-like jet that’s slated for a 2025 debut. The $200 million plane could cut down travel times in half if successful and make the world a significantly smaller place.

The Concorde was known for three-hour transatlantic crossing between the East Coast and Europe, making it possible for travelers to have breakfast in New York and lunch in Paris, or breakfast in London and a second breakfast in Washington. But standing in the way between today’s planes and the next supersonic age is flight testing — thousands of hours of it. 

Boom just took the wraps off of the prototype that will perform flight testing and prove its technology viable for wide-scale commercial flight. The single-pilot demonstrator known as the XB-1 will take to the skies starting next year and pave the way for the Overture. 

Airlines have already shown an interest and desire to get back into supersonic travel as Virgin Atlantic Airways and Japan Airlines are both investors in the company that has racked up 30 pre-orders. Even the US Air Force wants to get on

You can now sign up to test Microsoft Flight Simulator in VR

The new Microsoft Flight Simulator is an immersive beast of a PC game, and we can only imagine how immersive it might get in VR — but you might not have to imagine much longer, because Microsoft has just opened signups (via Eurogamer) for a closed beta of the virtual reality experience.

There are quite a few requirements if you want to be considered, though. Not only do you have to own the game, have a Windows Mixed Reality headset, be a registered Microsoft Flight Simulator “Insider” and sign an NDA, you’ll need a slightly beefier PC than the base game — with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 or better sporting 8GB of VRAM, as well as 16GB of system memory.

And, you’ll need to prove your PC qualifies by submitting your DxDiag (press your Windows start button, type “dxdiag”, hit Enter) so Microsoft can confirm those specs and that your system isn’t prone to BSODs or other major system errors.

(The DxDiag file is basically just an inventory of your system, but it does also list recent application crashes.)

Intriguingly, it doesn’t look like you’ll need the HP Reverb G2, the specific headset that Microsoft originally said would get first dibs on the game. Any Windows Mixed Reality headset will apparently do to start, which should be neat for those who got deep discounts on items like the Lenovo Explorer and Samsung Odyssey over the past couple of years.

The company isn’t saying when the closed beta will begin, but it had previously promised a free VR update this fall, so it probably won’t be long. If you’ve got an Oculus, HTC, or other VR headset, there’ll be a second wave of closed beta for other devices as well.

It’s not surprising Microsoft might want to be cautious