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    Japan’s proceeding with its SST plan:

    Japan’s space agency plans to launch an arrow-shaped airplane at twice the speed of sound high over the Australian outback as early as next month in a crucial test of the country’s push to develop a supersonic successor to the retired Concorde.

    The test follows a three-year hiatus since the first experimental flight of the unmanned aircraft, dubbed the next-generation supersonic transport, prematurely 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.”

    A successful mission will pave the way for additional experiments as JAXA aims to develop a plane that can carry 300 passengers at Mach 2, or twice the speed of sound, making the run from Tokyo to Los Angeles in about four hours.

    The aircraft is being developed in a partnership with France, whose history in the way of making profitable supersonic jets is not what you would call promising. But let’s just leave that aside and dream of flying to LA in four hours.

    Four hours! Just think of what you could do with the seven hours you’d save that way: start recovering from your jet lag early…spend more time with your friends…catch a domestic flight to New York and end up spending less time in the air than you would have spent flying Narita-JFK on a 747…write and proofread the great American novel. It would be like winning the chronolottery. Of course, it’s likely to be super-expensive, if it happens at all, so for now we’re still stuck trying to convince ourselves that 12 hours of imprisonment is great because it’s the perfect opportunity to reread War and Peace without distraction.

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