NASA Will Test Supersonic Flights Over Texas

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Galveston is set to be the testing cite for NASA’s supersonic prototype. The space agency has made it a mission to revolutionize air travel. NASA recently announced the upcoming demonstration over a coastal resort city in Texas, hoping to officially determine and ensure that this new technology will be truly quiet as it breaks the sound barrier, reports CNN. NASA says Galveston is the best choice for testing because of its location near the Gulf of Mexico.

In the past, the Anglo-French-designed Concorde’s jet was taken out of service in 2003 due to disruptive sound waves. Since the Concorde’s retirement, many innovators have sought a follow-up approach. Producing an aircraft without the supersonic boom would be absolutely game changing for aviation. Lockheed Martin will spearhead the building project after being awarded a $247.5 million contract with NASA, who hopes to finally meet expectations

While NASA is not the only ones working on a supersonic flight design, they believe their uniquely shaped structure design will achieve what others have been unable to do thus far. Boom Technology, an aviation startup, is cited by the Points Guy to be working on a 45- to 55-passenger-seated supersonic plane. They are being fronted with funds by Japan Airlines, who issued the company $10 million for their supersonic endeavor. Boom strives to have their design up on the market by 2023. Besides NASA and Boom, Spike Aerospace has also hit the ground running. Spike will be testing out its S-512 Supersonic Jet around the end of this year.

Model of France's Concorde Jet
A scale model of a Concorde is seen during the Air France Concorde crash court case in Pontoise, north suburb of Paris, Wednesday, March 24, 2010. A retired Continental Airlines maintenance chief defended himself Tuesday March 23, from charges that he was partly responsible for the crash of a Concorde supersonic jet a decade ago.Featured image credit: Francois MoriAP Images

The jet put forth by NASA and Lockheed Martin is sleek and engineered in such a way that its unique shape will prevent shockwaves from building up into the loud boom associated with past designs. Formerly known as the X-Plane or “Low-Flight Flight Demonstrator” this jet is now being called X-59 QueSST. The X-59 QueSST could make supersonic flight more economical, provided the experiment over Galveston works. Ed Hearing, an aerospace engineer over at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, explained how carefully mastered this jet is.

“With the X-59 you’re still going to have multiple shockwaves because of the wings on the aircraft that create lift and the volume of the plane. But the airplane’s shape is carefully tailored such that the shockwaves do not combine.

“Instead of getting a loud boom-boom, you’re going to get at least two quiet thump-thump sounds, if you even hear them at all. This is why the F/A-18 is so important to us as a tool. While construction continues on the X-59, we can use the diving maneuver to generate quiet sonic thumps over a specific area.”

NASA says that it will continue to carry out testing flights over other U.S. towns in order to gather more ground information; this of course will happen only after Lockheed Martin is able to properly construct the aircraft and NASA is able to establish the proper noise credentials.