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posted by martyb on Tuesday January 30 2018, @03:32PM   Printer-friendly
from the flappy-bird-will-never-be-the-same dept.

NASA is experimenting with planes whose outer wing sections can fold up or down depending on the current flight conditions. Even more interesting is that they are doing it with "shape memory alloy" rather than hydraulics.

Planes that can fold their wings to different angles while in the air have the potential to fly faster than their peers, and NASA has recently made headway into their development. The space agency has conducted a series of test flights proving that it can control the wings it designed to move into any position and that they have aerodynamic benefits. While the technology has existed for a long time, it typically requires the use of heavy hydraulic systems. NASA's version doesn't need that kind of machinery: it relies on the properties of a temperature-activated material called shape memory alloy instead. Upon being heated, the alloy activates a twisting motion in the tubes serving as the wings' actuator, moving the wings' outer portion up to 70 degrees upwards or downwards.

The foldable wings will give typical planes like commercial airliners a way to adapt to different flight conditions. They can give pilots more control over their aircraft and could even lead to more fuel efficient flights. Planes designed to fly at supersonic speeds (faster than the speed of sound), however, will get more out of this technology.

As Matt Moholt, the principal director of the Spanwise Adaptive Wing project, said:

"There's a lot of benefit in folding the wing tips downward to sort of 'ride the wave' in supersonic flight, including reduced drag. This may result in more efficient supersonic flight. Through this effort, we may be able to enable this element to the next generation of supersonic flight, to not only reduce drag but also increase performance, as you transition from subsonic to supersonic speeds. This is made possible using shape memory alloy."

Video: NASA Examines Technology To Fold Aircraft Wings In Flight


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

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by fustakrakich on Tuesday January 30 2018, @04:03PM

    by fustakrakich (6150) on Tuesday January 30 2018, @04:03PM (#630415) Journal
    --
    La politica e i criminali sono la stessa cosa..
  • (Score: 0, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 30 2018, @04:27PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 30 2018, @04:27PM (#630438)

    The magical time on the west coast is 3:45AM to 5AM. Believe what you see.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 30 2018, @09:25PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 30 2018, @09:25PM (#630619)

      Will I be able to observe the shadow object?

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