NASA’s X-Plane Just Joined the Supersonic Airplane Race

June 27, 2017

1:30 pm

There are more players in the race to deliver travelers from one destination to the next in supersonic speed.

Boom, the supersonic aircraft company recently announced a Series A $33M investment as well as their partnership with Sir Richard Branson to complete development production of their XB-1 Supersonic Demonstrator. The Boom passenger plane could eventually take passengers from Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia in under seven hours.

This week, our country’s most prestigious space travel organization NASA is throwing their hat into the supersonic ring and have completed the preliminary design review (PDR) of it’s Quiet Supersonic Transport (QueSST).

According to a press release, “QueSST is the initial design stage of NASA’s planned Low Boom Flight Demonstration (LBFD) experimental airplane, otherwise known as an X-plane.”

In partnership with Lockheed Martin Corporation, engineers and experts concluded the X-Plane will have the ability to fly at supersonic speeds, and instead of that loud sonic boom that accompanies that transition to ridiculous speed, passengers will hear a “thump” instead. That’ll be a little easier on the ears.

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“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 in a press release. “Our strong partnership with Lockheed Martin helped get us to this point. We’re now one step closer to building an actual X-plane.”

Last month, a scale model of the X-Plane completed testing in the 8-by 6-foot supersonic wind tunnel at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

While there is a ton more testing, design and manufacturing left to go, as soon as 2021, we could see a NASA version of a supersonic plane take flight.

Read more coverage about NASA’s latest tech on Tech.Co

Photo credit:  Illustration of NASA’s planned Low Boom Flight Demonstration aircraft as outlined during the project’s Preliminary Design Review last week.

Credits: NASA / Lockheed Martin
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Tishin is a technology journalist and correspondent. She has written for TechCrunch, Demand Studios and Fitness, and has regular network segments on local Phoenix affiliate stations. She holds a Master's degree in Clinical and Sport psychology, and has covered many areas of technology ranging from 3D printing and game development to neurotech and funding for over 15 years.

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