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posted by martyb on Wednesday March 02 2016, @07:49AM   Printer-friendly
from the end-of-the-boom-times dept.

The Guardian reports that NASA has begun another project [Javascript required] to design a quieter (low boom) commercial supersonic transport aircraft and has awarded the contract for the preliminary design to a team lead by Lockheed Martin.

Part of the project will be to study what would be acceptable noise levels from such a vehicle, and advances in design mean that the sonic boom associated with traditional supersonic aircraft could be replaced by a less disruptive pair of soft thuds.

A quieter supersonic aircraft would have potentially much larger markets than Concorde, which was effectively limited to going supersonic only over the ocean because of the intensity of its sonic boom.


Original Submission

Related Stories

Trump Administration Supports NASA's Quieter Supersonic Plane Design 25 comments

Trump Backs Supersonic NASA Jet That Will Fly From New York to London in Three Hours

A sleek, experimental plane that would quietly crack the speed of sound and transform a trans-Atlantic flight into a three-hour hop received critical backing on Monday under NASA's budget request for the fiscal year that starts October 1, 2018. The document signals the Trump administration would like to prioritize the jet, as well as further research into faster-than-sound airplane technology.

The budget request refers to the Low-Boom Flight-Demonstrator, a plane NASA wants in order to bring back supersonic commercial flights by mitigating their most annoying side effect, the loud sonic boom that accompanies them.

That boom has always been the biggest stumbling block for commercial supersonic flight. It is caused by the sheer number of air particles the nose of the plane pushes aside as it flies. Those molecules form a wave of high pressure, like a boat's wake as NASA describes it, which rolls out like a carpet beneath the airplane.

Also at Space.com.

Related: NASA Quesst Project - Quiet Supersonic Transport
Concorde Without the Cacophony: NASA Thinks It's Cracked Quiet Supersonic Flight
NASA Tests Light, Foldable Plane Wings for Supersonic Flights
NASA Releases 2018 Edition of Spinoff


Original Submission

NASA Awards Quiet Supersonic Aircraft Contract to Lockheed Martin 4 comments

NASA has awarded a contract to create a relatively quiet supersonic jet plane to Lockheed Martin:

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company of Palmdale, California, was selected for the Low-Boom Flight Demonstration contract, a cost-plus-incentive-fee contract valued at $247.5 million. Work under the contract began April 2 and runs through Dec. 31, 2021.

Under this contract, Lockheed Martin will complete the design and fabrication of an experimental aircraft, known as an X-plane, which will cruise at 55,000 feet at a speed of about 940 mph and create a sound about as loud as a car door closing, 75 Perceived Level decibel (PLdB), instead of a sonic boom.

NASA plans to fly the "X-plane" over U.S. cities starting in 2022 in order to "collect data about community responses to the flights".

Also at Popular Mechanics, Newsweek, and Wired.

Previously: NASA Quesst Project - Quiet Supersonic Transport
Concorde Without the Cacophony: NASA Thinks It's Cracked Quiet Supersonic Flight
NASA Tests Light, Foldable Plane Wings for Supersonic Flights
Trump Administration Supports NASA's Quieter Supersonic Plane Design


Original Submission

NASA is Showering One City With Sonic Booms and Hoping No One Notices 8 comments

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

NASA is showering one city with sonic booms and hoping no one notices

NASA has been deliberately creating sonic booms off the coast of Galveston, Texas, since Monday in the hope that residents on the barrier island community won't be too bothered by the sound of an F/A-18 aircraft briefly going supersonic.

That's because the research jet is performing a dive maneuver designed to reduce the normally thunderous sonic boom to what NASA calls a "quiet thump," more like the sound of a car door slamming.

The test flights are aimed at measuring the community response to the new, quieter booms and are part of NASA's larger effort to develop a new, more muted supersonic plane that might be able to fly over land.

Previously: NASA Quesst Project - Quiet Supersonic Transport
Concorde Without the Cacophony: NASA Thinks It's Cracked Quiet Supersonic Flight
NASA Tests Light, Foldable Plane Wings for Supersonic Flights
Trump Administration Supports NASA's Quieter Supersonic Plane Design
NASA Awards Quiet Supersonic Aircraft Contract to Lockheed Martin


Original Submission

NASA's Quiet Supersonic Plane Cleared for Final Assembly 9 comments

NASA's X-59 QueSST cleared for final assembly

NASA's first large scale, piloted X-plane in more than three decades is cleared for final assembly and integration of its systems following a major project review by senior managers held Thursday at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

The management review, known as Key Decision Point-D (KDP-D), was the last programmatic hurdle for the X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) aircraft to clear before officials meet again in late 2020 to approve the airplane's first flight in 2021.

"With the completion of KDP-D we've shown the project is on schedule, it's well planned, and on track. We have everything in place to continue this historic research mission for the nation's air-traveling public," said Bob Pearce, NASA's associate administrator for Aeronautics.

Jonny Quest Rusty Venture was unavailable for comment.

Also at BGR.

Previously: NASA Quesst Project - Quiet Supersonic Transport
Concorde Without the Cacophony: NASA Thinks It's Cracked Quiet Supersonic Flight
Trump Administration Supports NASA's Quieter Supersonic Plane Design
Quieter, Faster, Stronger: The Next Jet Age Is Coming


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2) by MostCynical on Wednesday March 02 2016, @08:19AM

    by MostCynical (2589) on Wednesday March 02 2016, @08:19AM (#312535) Journal

    the pilots, after bailing out?

    http://www.ejectionsite.com/insaddle/insaddle.htm [ejectionsite.com]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bailout_at_43,000 [wikipedia.org]
    Video for supersonic bail out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HecyxhXDepU [youtube.com]

    --
    "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
  • (Score: 3, Informative) by butthurt on Wednesday March 02 2016, @09:57AM

    by butthurt (6141) on Wednesday March 02 2016, @09:57AM (#312556) Journal

    I'm copy-pasting this for those who don't have Javascript. "NASA material is not protected by copyright unless noted. [nasa.gov]"

    Feb. 29, 2016
    16-022
    NASA Begins Work to Build a Quieter Supersonic Passenger Jet

    [picture omitted (it's a different crop of the one in the Guardian)]
    Artist concept of supersonic aircraft
    This is an artist’s concept of a possible Low Boom Flight Demonstration Quiet Supersonic Transport (QueSST) X-plane design. The award of a preliminary design contract is the first step towards the possible return of supersonic passenger travel – but this time quieter and more affordable.
    Credits: Lockheed Martin

    The return of supersonic passenger air travel is one step closer to reality with NASA's award of a contract for the preliminary design of a “low boom” flight demonstration aircraft. This is the first in a series of ‘X-planes’ in NASA's New Aviation Horizons initiative, introduced in the agency’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget.

    NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced the award at an event 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."

    NASA selected a team led by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company of Palmdale, California, to complete a preliminary design for Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST). The work will be conducted under a task order against the Basic and Applied Aerospace Research and Technology (BAART) contract at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

    After conducting feasibility studies and working to better understand acceptable sound levels across the country, NASA's Commercial Supersonic Technology Project asked industry teams to submit design concepts for a piloted test aircraft that can fly at supersonic speeds, creating a supersonic "heartbeat" -- a soft thump rather than the disruptive boom currently associated with supersonic flight.

    “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.

    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 company will develop baseline aircraft requirements and a preliminary aircraft design, with specifications, and provide supporting documentation for concept formulation and planning. This documentation would be used to prepare for the detailed design, building and testing of the QueSST jet. Performance of this preliminary design also must undergo analytical and wind tunnel validation.

    In addition to design and building, this Low Boom Flight Demonstration (LBFD) phase of the project also will include validation of community response to the new, quieter supersonic design. The detailed design and building of the QueSST aircraft, conducted under the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate's Integrated Aviation Systems Program, will fall under a future contract competition.

    NASA’s 10-year New Aviation Horizons initiative has the ambitious goals of reducing fuel use, emissions and noise through innovations in aircraft design that departs from the conventional tube-and-wing aircraft shape.

    The New Aviation Horizons X-planes will typically be about half-scale of a production aircraft and likely are to be piloted. Design-and-build will take several years with aircraft starting their flight campaign around 2020, depending on funding.

    For more information about NASA’s aeronautics research, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/aero [nasa.gov]

    -end-

    J.D. Harrington
    Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-5241
    j.d.harrington@nasa.gov

    Kathy Barnstorff
    Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.
    757-864-9886 / 757-344-8511
    kathy.barnstorff@nasa.gov
    Last Updated: March 1, 2016
    Editor: Sarah Ramsey

    • (Score: 1) by WalksOnDirt on Wednesday March 02 2016, @11:34AM

      by WalksOnDirt (5854) on Wednesday March 02 2016, @11:34AM (#312591) Journal

      I wonder how this is going to reduce emissions? Maybe hydrogen fuel would help. It's going to be difficult just to keep subsonic flight affordable in this warming world.

      In any case, good luck! I may not live to see it, but at least this gives hope for future generations to travel quickly.

      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by butthurt on Wednesday March 02 2016, @02:05PM

        by butthurt (6141) on Wednesday March 02 2016, @02:05PM (#312625) Journal

        “NASA is working hard to make flight greener" isn't a claim that this particular design is greener. They emphasise lessened noise.

        Better fuel economy than Concorde or the Tu-144 ought to be possible. Those aircraft were realised in 1968, after all. Better than subsonic designs does seem implausible.

        • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Wednesday March 02 2016, @07:32PM

          by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday March 02 2016, @07:32PM (#312751)

          I don't see why they're wasting money on it then. There's no demand for supersonic passenger flight: that's why commercial SSTs are all out of business. The tickets cost too much, and people aren't willing to pay far, far more for a ticket just to save a bit of time in travel. It's more important to make subsonic flight greener, as we burn a ridiculous amount of fossil fuels powering jets, or better yet come up with some greener and better alternatives to jet travel, such as Musk's Hyperloop.

          • (Score: 1) by butthurt on Wednesday March 02 2016, @10:00PM

            by butthurt (6141) on Wednesday March 02 2016, @10:00PM (#312819) Journal

            Concern over safety was another factor limiting demand, I would say.

            I don't know why NASA commissioned this design; perhaps it was directed to do so by the Congress? Development of past SSTs was also funded by governments.

            The wealthy, until recently, were a growing demographic. A report [spectrem.com] counting wealthy households in America says that in 2014 there were more of them than ever, and that the number "with a net worth between $5 million and $25 million, grew to 1,168,000, an increase of 60,000." Another report [worldwealthreport.com] from 2014 found a growing number of millionaires in China, Japan, and Germany. Forbes magazine, however, just released its World's Billionaire's List, saying that there are fewer billionaires than a year before (1810, down from 1826 [cbsnews.com]) and that their wealth has decreased.

  • (Score: 1, Troll) by Snotnose on Wednesday March 02 2016, @04:03PM

    by Snotnose (1623) on Wednesday March 02 2016, @04:03PM (#312672)

    NASA doesn't make airplanes, and they want their rockets to break the sound barrier ASAP but don't care about the sonic boom. Seems to me NASA is paying 20 million for a stack of paper it will never be able to use, unless they can no longer pay their heating bill and can burn said paper. Lockheed Martin was just gifted 20 mil in taxpayer money for no good reason.

    --
    In this month in 1958 Project Snot was started. This has upset many people and is widely considered a bad idea.
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Immerman on Wednesday March 02 2016, @06:44PM

      by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday March 02 2016, @06:44PM (#312732)

      National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

      NASA doesn't build rockets either, but they do fund a lot of R&D into long-term useful technologies whose initial costs are too high, or payback too risky, to appeal to traditional investors.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 03 2016, @04:12AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 03 2016, @04:12AM (#312953)

        Before 1958, the agency was called the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.

        Some of the facilities of the Langley Research Center are over on the Air Force Base side of the fenced-in property and still have the NACA markings.
        One that stands out is the full-scale wind tunnel. [google.com]
        (The comments engine is still screwing with ASCIIized quote marks in links.)

        -- OriginalOwner_ [soylentnews.org]

    • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Wednesday March 02 2016, @06:57PM

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Wednesday March 02 2016, @06:57PM (#312735) Journal

      National Aeronautics and Space Administration

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 03 2016, @02:35AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 03 2016, @02:35AM (#312922)

      National Aeronautics and Space Administration

      (I heard that if you posted this three times in a row, you'd summon Amelia Earhart's evil nanny)

  • (Score: 4, Informative) by bob_super on Wednesday March 02 2016, @08:48PM

    by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday March 02 2016, @08:48PM (#312785)

    > potentially much larger markets than Concorde, which was effectively limited to going supersonic only over the ocean because of the intensity of its sonic boom.

    Right... That's really what happened. Not US protectionism at a time when not flying over the US was a major commercial issue.
    I used to live 30 km down the takeoff path of Concorde. Every morning at 11AM, you knew it was there, despite the fact it was already pretty high. The thing was LOUD, like nothing else short of a B1. But the supersonic boom was just an excuse to protect the US plane makers, and the Oil Crisis did the rest...