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NASA to Test 'Quiet' Supersonic Flights

04 July 2018

A quiet supsersonic aircraft that could change how we view travel is one step closer to being a reality.

NASA will conduct supersonic flight tests over Galveston, Texas in November 2018, using an F/A-18 Hornet to gain an understanding of acceptable noise levels, Live Science reported. NASA intends to fly the X-59 over several towns or cities and gather data from residents on the ground about their perception of the sound the supersonic aircraft generates.

Galveston was selected as the testing location due to its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. Since the Concorde's retirement, many innovators have sought a follow-up approach.

A sonic boom is the loud thunder-like sound that happens because of shock waves that are created when an object travelling through the atmosphere travels faster than the speed of sound.

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The secret to the plane's noise-reducing ability is its uniquely-shaped structure, designed so that supersonic shockwaves don't build up into powerful sonic booms.

Ever wonder what NASA's quiet supersonic technology sounds like?

Japan Airlines invested $10 million into Boom Technologies, a Denver-based start-up that also hopes to revive supersonic air travel in the next decade. Boom strives to have their design up on the market by 2023.

NASA recently awarded Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company a Dollars 247.5 million contract to build a faster-than-sound X-plane - official designated X-59 "QueSST" - that will demonstrate quiet supersonic technologies in straight and level flight over a large area. However, Ed Haering, a NASA aerospace engineer at Armstrong said that you might barely hear anything at all.

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"With the X-59 you're still going to have multiple shockwaves because of the wings on the aircraft that create lift and the volume of the plane". "But the airplane's shape is carefully tailored such that those shockwaves do not combine".

According to NASA, instead of hearing two loud booms as the X-59 breaks the sound barrier, you'll hear two softer "thumps".

"For everyone working on this important project, this is great news and we're thrilled with the designation", Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator for NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, said in the NASA statement.

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NASA to Test 'Quiet' Supersonic Flights