If NASA has its way with current aerospace developments then our commercial airspace could soon see a brand new supersonic jet.
The American space company has given the green light for the preliminary design of a “low boom” supersonic passenger plane that could potentially slot in place of the ageing Concorde jet.
The latest statement from NASA reveals that Nasa’s Commercial Supersonic Technology Project have asked industry teams to conceive and submit design concepts for a test aircraft that can operate at supersonic speeds.
The design goal? To create a supersonic “heartbeat” that is a soft thump as opposed to a loud boom which currently plagues the fleet of supersonic jets, thus rendering them limited in its operational scope.
To achieve this ambitious goal, NASA have enlisted a team of engineers led by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics to bring the Quiet Supersonic Technology (Quesst) to life. The Quesst will become the first in a collection of “X-planes” to roll out of NASA’s New Aviation Horizons program.
And just to ensure that it’s not all hot air, Lockheed Martin will be receiving US$20 million over seventeen months to get the Quesst program off the ground.
“The company will develop baseline aircraft requirements and a preliminary aircraft design, with specifications, and provide supporting documentation for concept formulation and planning,” said a NASA spokesperson.
“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.”
NASA expects that a scaled-down funded version of the plane will begin test flights by 2020. Charles Bolden who is the head of NASA explained that “we’re continuing that supersonic X-plane legacy with this preliminary design award for a quieter supersonic jet with an aim toward passenger flight.”
It’s still early days but NASA says that they are focused on providing a solution to the acceptable levels of noise for supersonic aircrafts.
A NASA Quesst Concorde never sounded so cool.