NASA Awards Design Contract Of New Quiet Supersonic Passenger Jet
NASA just just approved the preliminary design of a new supersonic passenger plane that could eventually replace the once promising Concorde jet. The retirement of the former Concorde jet was based on the crash that occurred on July 25th, 2000, the September 11th attacks, the low number of passengers on flights, and the general slump in air travel due to September 11th.
NASA’s Commercial Supersonic Technology Project asked industry teams to submit their design ideas for a new supersonic jet that can fly at supersonic speeds that would create a “heartbeat thump” rather than the sonic boom that we usually hear when a jet goes supersonic.
The winner of the design contest was long-time NASA partner, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, to complete the designs for a Quiet Supersonic Technology, also called “Quesst.” These new designs will be a part of a series of X-planes that are a part of NASA’S New Aviation Horizons initiative, which was included in NASA’s Fiscal 2017 budget. In the budget, Lockheed would get $20 million over 17 months to create the design for for the Quesst project.
“The company will develop baseline aircraft requirements and a preliminary aircraft design, with specifications, and provide supporting documentation for concept formulation and planning,” A NASA spokesperson explained. “This documentation would be used to prepare for the detailed design, building and testing of the QueSST jet. The performance of this preliminary design also must undergo analytical and wind tunnel validation.”
Test flights for the project could happen as soon as 2020 if all works out.
“It’s worth noting that it’s been almost 70 years since Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 as part of our predecessor agency’s high speed research,” The head of NASA, Charles Bolden said. “Now we’re continuing that supersonic X-plane legacy with this preliminary design award for a quieter supersonic jet with an aim toward passenger flight.”
NASA explained that one major point of the project would be to determine if the new supersonic planes would have “acceptable sound levels” because of the loud and disruptive nature of planes with the sonic boom over neighborhoods. That’s no joke. Living near a major airbase in Michigan, I would constantly hear sonic booms (Supersonic flight is prohibited over land, oddly) during recess that would scare all of us since it happened so abruptly. Let’s hope this project works out for the whole team.
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Jeff Sorensen is an author, writer and occasional comedian living in Detroit, Michigan. You can look for more of his work on The Huffington Post,UPROXX,BGR and by just looking up his name.