Beginning in March of 2002, the National Aerospace Laboratory of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology of Japan will work on developing a new supersonic jet. The proposed aircraft will reportedly have the ability to complete Tokyo-to-Los Angeles routes in less than five hours and will begin operating commercially in less than 20 years. The ministry plans to launch a smaller 11.5-meter model of the plane, without an engine or pilot, via a rocket from Australia to collect data concerning creating greater fuselage lift and lower air pressure. Depending on the results, the ministry will conduct trials with smaller models powered by engines between 2004 and 2006. Reportedly, the new jet will have an 11,000-kilometer range and will be able to carry 300 passengers. Scientists involved in the project also say that the jet will emit 25 percent as much nitrogen oxide as the Concorde and about as much noise as a standard jumbo jet. Japan may need to cooperate with a non-Japanese partner on the project.
source: BBC News, 2001-02-19
Anyone with more info on this?