JUN 27, 2017 5:23 AM PDT

NASA Makes Progress On its Low-Boom X-Plane Design

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

One of the side-projects NASA continues to work on is pushing American aviation to the next generation and re-claiming the agency’s place as the world’s top group of aviation experts.

To do this, the agency reawakened the X-plane concept ideas that were put on hold for years while NASA struggled in the midst of budget constraints and other space-related top priorities.

All of NASA's X-plane concepts, in one place.

Image Credit: NASA/Lillian Gipson

Among these X-planes, various models will serve a range of purposes, including but not limited to:

  • Higher travel yields with improvements to fuel efficiency
  • Quieter operation with subtler “thumps” instead of “booms” at supersonic speeds
  • More powerful engines that move aircraft at higher rates of speed
  • Improvements to environmental friendliness

So far, many of these X-plane concepts remain just concepts, but one of them is really beginning to take shape as NASA thinks they’ve hit a major milestone in its development.

In particular, we’re speaking of the low-boom supersonic aircraft that NASA strives to build, which would be much more environmentally-friendly with less of a disruption to the general public below when traveling at supersonic speeds.

An artist's rendering of the low-boom supersonic aircraft flying through the air.

Image Credit: NASA/Lockheed Martin

NASA achieves this by modifying the shape and size of the aircraft, which is specifically designed to disperse those sonic boom soundwaves into something much less disturbing. In fact, NASA even thinks it would be so silent many wouldn’t even be able to discern it from everyday noise.

NASA is calling the prototype of this X-plane QueSST (Quiet Supersonic Transport), and has reportedly completed its preliminary design review already, which is necessary step before any of the agency’s concepts are able to come to life.

Related: DARPA shows off a vertical launching and landing airplane concept that looks like it should be an X-plane

In collaboration with Lockheed Martin, NASA successfully made and demonstrated a scale model of such an aircraft inside of a wind tunnel no larger than 8 by 6 feet that could produce supersonic airspeeds. The data they got back will go towards a full-scale model that will go through further testing.

"Managing a project like this is all about moving from one milestone to the next,” said David Richwine, manager for the preliminary design effort under NASA’s Commercial Supersonic Technology Project. “Our strong partnership with Lockheed Martin helped get us to this point. We’re now one step closer to building an actual X-plane.”

The goal is to have a low-boom flight demonstration X-plane by some time in 2021, but there’s still a lot to work to be done. Transforming a scale model aircraft into a full-sized one and then test-flying it is significantly more difficult than building scale models.

It should be interesting to see what happens with this concept and whether it becomes an everyday occurrence in our skies soon.

Source: NASA

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
DEC 15, 2020
Technology
Study Predicts a Smooth Transition Between Humans and Robots
DEC 15, 2020
Study Predicts a Smooth Transition Between Humans and Robots
A study by researchers in Tampere University in Finland have predicted that making eye contact with a robot can have the ...
DEC 16, 2020
Technology
Advancing Weather Predictions
DEC 16, 2020
Advancing Weather Predictions
Today, we depend on powerful computers to make the most accurate predictions of our coming weather. However, these compu ...
DEC 30, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Measuring Electrical Differences Inside of Live Cells
DEC 30, 2020
Measuring Electrical Differences Inside of Live Cells
Electricity is a key aspect of life, and is required for organisms to move and communicate. The movement of tiny charged ...
JAN 19, 2021
Technology
Fine-Tuning of Biomaterials for Medical Applications
JAN 19, 2021
Fine-Tuning of Biomaterials for Medical Applications
Recently, researchers were successful in fine tuning thermoplactic biomaterials for medical applications. These polyeste ...
JAN 27, 2021
Technology
Electric Car Revolution: Implementing Sufficient Charging Stations
JAN 27, 2021
Electric Car Revolution: Implementing Sufficient Charging Stations
Charging stations seem to be the main deterrent for people not to choose to drive an electric vehicle. Despite the vehic ...
FEB 25, 2021
Technology
New Development for Electrochromatic Devices
FEB 25, 2021
New Development for Electrochromatic Devices
Scientists have developed a new approach for foldable and solid devices—best known as solid and flexible electroch ...
Loading Comments...