Breakthrough: NASA Completes Its Prelim Design Toward Quiet Supersonic X-Plane

First Posted: Jun 29, 2017 06:22 AM EDT

NASA has completed a preliminary design review (PDR) for its supersonic plane known as X-plane to be quiet enough for use. It is also called the Quiet Supersonic Transport or QueSST aircraft design.

NASA reports that QueSST design could enable the Low Boom Flight Demonstration (LBFD) aircraft's mission objectives. These involve flying at supersonic speeds. On the other hand, it must generate a soft thump instead of a disorderly and upsetting sonic boom, which is linked to the supersonic flight in this period.

The LBFD X-plane will be flown over communities to gather essential data for regulators to make the supersonic flight over land across the Unites States and other parts of the world. The supersonic flight usually produces shock waves and expansion waves that trigger a boom. On the other hand, the QueSST design will separate the waves and could remove the boom. The design will produce a slow rise in pressure.

NASA's design of X-plane is being collaborated with Lockheed Martin Corporation since February 2016. They have been conducting testing of a small model of the plane in wind tunnels this 2017. Meanwhile, they have finished reviewing the preliminary design and approve the construction of a full prototype of X-plane, according to Inverse.

David Richwine, manager of the PDR under NASA's Commercial Supersonic Technology Project, stated that operating a project like this is all about moving from one milestone to the next. He further said that their strong partnership with Lockheed Martin helped get them to this point. He added that they are now one step closer to building the actual X-plane.

The flight testing of the LBFD X-plane is slated as early as 2021. Meanwhile, in the coming months, NASA together with Lockheed Martin will work to finalize the QueSST preliminary design that includes the static inlet performance test and a low-speed wind tunnel test to be held at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA. 

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