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Ridiculous: Sky Hotel, nuclear-powered plane

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There’s a newly proposed concept for an airplane that can hold 5,000 people, is nuclear-powered, and never needs to land. It’s flooding social media, news sites and it’s completely ridiculous.


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Ridiculous design

A video came out on Youtube (see link below) of an absolutely ridiculous plane. Boasting, among its many enviable features, the Sky Hotel (such a clever name) is more of a cruise ship in the sky than a hotel. The design postulates that it would hold 5,000 passengers, include a gym, observation tower, restaurants, bedrooms – everything a cruise ship would have.

Just…watch the video if you haven’t seen this atrocity before.

When I was a very young aviation geek my imagination would wander towards these types of designs. One, in particular, that my mother kept for a very long time, the great plane (an equally clever title though in my defense, I was about seven years old at the time.)

There is almost no aspect of the aircraft that matters for aerodynamics. For example, the lookout tower, a glazed ring at the tail probably wouldn’t fly. It highlights the exterior glass elevators – that would be fun at 300-500 knots and not completely terrifying, right? There doesn’t seem to be a general understanding of how much thrust is required (just craft row after row of turbojets, that should do the trick), or how many wheels are needed to absorb the weight of such a crazy contraption on landing.

The video creator didn’t even retract the gear while cruising, which should make for a smooth ride.

It would be a nuclear-powered aircraft to overcome the pesky problem of fuel and refueling. No problem.

Who would ever want that?

It should be clear that this is not an aircraft that any manufacturer is even casually considering. Without addressing the ideal fantasy (there is nothing wrong with a little imagination), my wife saw it and wondered about the purpose. The sky is not a destination, and while it would be wonderful to dance among the clouds and wake up on a distant continent in a real bed, even the longest cruises have stops along the way and eventually reach their destinations.

No one, even aviation geeks like me, would want a flight that never lands. Above the clouds the view would be rather dull for large parts of the journey, and of course there would be turbulence, food and drink replenishments, and the general need and desire to return to everyday life.

Even if it was to follow a cruise schedule (10-14 nights), I don’t find the advantage.

The only valid thought

There is a valid thought to come from this absurd design. We have nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers, why couldn’t we use nuclear power to propel a large aircraft (or spacecraft?) The concern about the ability to control a nuclear reactor on a ship with people on board has already been answered, so why not airplanes?

If nuclear-powered flight were a possibility, I could see the practical application for long, slow flights to remote parts of the world, but more as a means to an end. Without the concern for fuel consumption and reduced carbon emissions, leisure travelers could travel longer distances for less money by carrying more passengers with less pressing concerns.

Space travel, where propulsion is needed for a longer duration over a large distance, would make more sense as a practical application of the technology.

Conclusion

I’ve seen this nonsensical design pushed at me from a number of sources throughout the week and it’s become more than an annoyance simply because of how little the design actually basics. That said, one benefit could be sort of rethinking if there are better or other ways to fly. Faster-than-sound flight was the last real challenge to the basic model of commercial flight that’s been with us since the 1960s. Maybe this ridiculous design will lead someone to create something truly inspiring, but if it’s is the case, it may consider real-world issues such as aerodynamics or retractable landing gear.

What do you think? Have you seen this ridiculous pattern circulating this week? What do you think of nuclear flight?

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