NASA is planning to break the sound barrier once more for future air travel

NASA’s aeronautical innovators are poised to break the sound barrier once more, this time in a very different way that could one day allow all of us to travel by air at the same speed as any of the X-1 pilots who flew supersonic. The X-59, the centrepiece of NASA’s Quesst mission, will enable commercial supersonic land travel. The aircraft was designed, built, and tested by Lockheed Martin, with the first flight scheduled for 2023.

“That first supersonic flight was such a huge accomplishment, and look how far we’ve come since then. What we’re doing now is the result of a lot of their hard work “Catherine Bahm, an aeronautical engineer at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, explained the situation. NASA intends to use Quesst to demonstrate that the X-59 can fly faster than sound without producing the typically loud sonic booms that led to the prohibition of supersonic flight over land in 1973.

The X-59 will be flown over several communities to see how people react to the quieter sonic “thump” it emits – if they hear anything at all. According to NASA, “their responses will be shared with regulators, who will then consider writing new rules to lift the ban.” “And when that happens, it will mark another historic milestone in flight, potentially ushering in a new era in air travel, with airline passengers hopping on a supersonic jet at breakfast time in Los Angeles to make a lunch-time reservation in New York City,” the report added.

A sonic boom thundered for the first time over the high desert of California seventy-five years ago, when the thunder came from the Bell X-1 rocket plane flying faster than the speed of sound. It was October 14, 1947, and the joint X-1 team of NACA, Air Force (which had just been formed that year), and Bell engineers and pilots had broken the sound barrier – an illusory wall in the sky that some claimed was impenetrable. “I think we’re ready to break the sound barrier again with the X-59 flying on the Quesst mission,” said Peter Coen, NASA’s Quesst mission integration manager.

(source : IANS)

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