The technology in development could make supersonic flight over land possible and commercially feasible, dramatically reducing travel time.
NASA’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology X-plane is designed to fly faster than the speed of sound without producing sonic booms. (Photo: Nasa)
When fighter pilots are trained, the two exciting things that they need to learn among a myriad of systems and protocols are to adjusting to the G-forces (gravity) exerted on the body during flight and breaking the sound barrier by going supersonic — faster than the speed of sound.
Among the several reasons commercial civilian aircraft don’t fly faster than the speed of sound is the objectionable sonic boom that going supersonic results in. Now, Nasa is working on developing an experimental plane that can fly at roughly double the speed of a commercial jet while keeping the aircraft quiet.
The sound created by the aircraft will be a gentle sonic thump or even no sound at all.
NASA continues to make progress on the assembly of the X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology, or QueSST, aircraft. (Photo: Nasa)
The US-based space agency has visualised fluid dynamics simulations to verify the aircraft’s supersonic performance. It is working with Lockheed Martin to create a database that will include simulations for all possible combinations of the settings that a pilot uses to control the aircraft and the flight conditions that may be encountered during flight, it said in a statement.
Nasa had captured the first air-to-air images of the interaction of shockwaves from two supersonic aircraft flying in formation in March; these shockwaves are typically heard on the ground as a sonic boom. During the demonstration, two US Air Force Test Pilot School T-38 aircraft flew 30 feet apart, faster than the speed of sound that helped engineers understand how shocks interact with aircraft plumes, as well as with each other.
NASA was able to capture the first air-to-air images of the interaction of shockwaves from two supersonic aircraft flying in formation. (Photo: Nasa)
What is Quiet Supersonic Technology X-plane project?
The main objective of the project is to make supersonic flight over land possible and commercially feasible, dramatically reducing travel time in the process.
Also Read: Decoded | Use of drones for terrorism
Nasa aims to design and build a piloted, large-scale supersonic X-plane with technology that reduces the loudness of a sonic boom to that of a gentle thump and to fly the X-plane over select areas to gather data on human responses to the low-boom flights and deliver that data set to international regulators by 2024.
The aircraft which is in development could help in opening new commercial cargo and passenger markets to provide faster-than-sound air travel.
Click here for IndiaToday.in’s complete coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.