NASA's Supersonic Passenger Jet Readies for Takeoff
|NASA'S X-59 QueSST|
NASA and Lockheed Martin just reached an important milestone on their quieter supersonic X-plane. They've completed the initial design on a low boom SST passenger jet. Why is that significant to all of us? How would you like to hop on a plane and go from NYC to LA in 2 hours? Or NYC to London in 3 hours. That's what the X-plane is all about. Some aviators are calling it "Son of Concorde", after the famed Anglo-French SST that was decommissioned 15 yrs ago. But this one has NASA expertise.
NASA calls it the X-59 QueSST. The Quiet Supersonic Transport that travels at 1100 mph. They just crossed a key threshold to make supersonic flight over land a real possibility. They've completed a preliminary design review for the low boom flight experimental plane, the X-Plane.
Looking and Sounding Good
NASA thinks it has what it needs. They say QueSST can fly at supersonic speeds and create a soft thump rather than a loud sonic boom that's associated with SST flights. QueSST is going to be flown over communities to collect data for regulators to okay SST flights over land in the US and globally. In fact, in November, an F-18 fighter jet is going to go supersonic and fire off the "sonic thump" over Galveston, Texas to gauge noise reaction from the public.
Testing Phase Underway
Actual flight tests are expected in 2021. But, over the next few months, low-speed wind tunnel testing and what's called static inlet performance tests will be taking place at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia. In May, a scale model of the X-plane successfully passed a supersonic wind tunnel at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Ohio. NASA is moving with supersonic speed on this program.
Crowed Air Space
SST travel is coming back without the booms. Sir Richard Branson is developing a SST passenger jet that flies at Mach 2.2 or 1,676 mph and cruises at 60,000 feet. It will carry 55 passengers. A 2-seat version called Baby Boom is going to be tested in 2019. 15 years after Concorde's last flight, supersonic travel is making a comeback.