The new Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) passenger jet which NASA will design and develop will have a “heart beat” instead of a big boom.
With a “low boom” design specification, the QueSST jet, will be quieter and more environmentally friendly than the beloved Superbird Concorde.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced the award of the Supersonic design project on Monday at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia.
“NASA is working hard to make flight greener, safer and quieter — all while developing aircraft that travel faster, and building an aviation system that operates more efficiently,” said Bolden.
“To that end, 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. 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,” he continued.
After conducting feasibility studies (to identify acceptable sound levels across the country) NASA’s Commercial Supersonic Technology Project asked industry teams to submit design concepts for a piloted test aircraft which could “fly at supersonic speeds, creating a supersonic “heartbeat” — a soft thump rather than the disruptive boom currently associated with supersonic flight,” the agency states.
“Developing, building and flight testing a quiet supersonic X-plane is the next logical step in our path to enabling the industry’s decision to open supersonic travel for the flying public,” said Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator for NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission.
The agency will develop a Low Boom Flight Demonstration (LBFD) platform as well as the baseline requirements for the new Supersonic QueSST Jet.
NASA will prepare a preliminary aircraft design, with specifications and supporting documentation which would ultimately lead to a prototype build which would later undergo analytical validation and wind tunnel testing.
During the Low Boom Flight Demonstration (LBFD) phase of the project, NASA will see how the community responds to the reduced sound levels.
NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate’s Integrated Aviation Systems Program will be responsible for the design and build of the new QueSST jet, working with a team led by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company.
“Lockheed Martin will receive about $20 million over 17 months for QueSST preliminary design work. The Lockheed Martin team includes subcontractors GE Aviation of Cincinnati and Tri Models Inc. of Huntington Beach, California,” the agency states.
New Aviation Horizons
NASA’s 10-year New Aviation Horizons initiative aims to reduce aviation’s fuel consumption, emissions, and noise through design innovations which leave behind the tube-and-wing shape of today’s aircraft.
The QueSSt is the first in what will be a series of ‘X-planes’ which will form part of NASA’s New Aviation Horizons initiative, included in the agency’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget.
New Aviation Horizons X-planes will be about half-scale of a final production aircraft, but the agency expects them to be operated by pilots.
You’ll only have to wait a little bit for the QueSSt tests.
Though design-and-build will take time, NASA has said that it expects to start testing aircraft in their flight campaign around 2020–if they can get the funding.
Fund NASA! The future of humanity depends on it. (ESA too, please!)
Featured Image: QeSSt Supersonic Passenger Jet design concept, Source: NASA
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