Researchers from the Russian Tupolev Kazan National Research Technical University have proposed the stratolet—an intercontinental supersonic aircraft designed for flights in the stratosphere. One of its proposed uses is as a business aircraft.
According to conceptual drawings, the aircraft would have a fuselage with wings and horizontal control surfaces at the front and rear. It would also be equipped with a combined rocket or air-rocket engine running on oxygen, as well as a recoverable upper stage with two gas turbine engines and engine cowling. Performance characteristics of the aircraft have not yet been disclosed.
The stratolet shares some similarities with the British-led Skylon project, which is a reusable unmanned spacecraft from Reaction Engines that is scheduled to be flown mid-decade. But the Russian researchers claim their design will have higher efficiency, increased payload, and faster takeoff thanks to its two-stage flight concept, which reduces weight during the second stage. At the same time, the oval wing of the booster block will increase the aircraft’s lift and shorten takeoff time.