Reach SF in 100 Minutes from China? Supersonic "Bullet Sub" Proposed

China claims it's closer to building a sub that can cross the Pacific in less than two hours.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Andrea Danti, Shutterstock
    Can this be the wave of the future for trans-Pacific travel?

    Planes, trains, automobiles -- and a supersonic torpedo?

    The means to get to Asia and back in the time it takes to take a long lunch break may be a possibility through a supersonic submarine, according to Chinese researchers who say they have found a way to make this proposition possible.

    The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reports that scientists have figured out how to make a submarine supersonic, or very close to it.

    Researchers at Harbin Institute of Technology say that they can encapsulate a submarine in an air bubble that would reduce drag significantly. Called "supercavitation," the technology was first employed by the Russian Navy to create torpedoes that could travel in excess of 250 miles an hour.

    By using the same technology for submarines, an underwater vessel could in theory travel 5,800 kilometers an hour. That's about 3,600 miles an hour, or fast enough to go from San Francisco to Shanghai in 100 minutes, the newspaper reported.

    There are some drawbacks: first, the sub would have to be launched at a high speed. Second, you can't really steer. Third, no "underwater rocket engine" to propel the sub for such a long time exists.