NASA has joined hand with Lockheed Martin to develop a piloted X-plane which can fly at supersonic speed. Supersonic planes have never been used commercially as they produce noisy sonic booms while flying. But, as per the report the new X-plane will be developed with quite a technology, ending the loud sonic booms. These jests can move faster than sound. NASA has taken a step toward passenger supersonic air travel. The supersonic air travel was first introduced in 1969 with Concorde. It continued till 2003. Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator for aeronautics at NASA stated, “It is super exciting to be back designing and flying X-planes at this scale.”
The X-plane will be built under the program called the Low-Boom Flight Demonstration. First, the company will build an experimental aircraft and will run a test fly over cities to check whether it is quite enough or not. It is said that the X-plane can reach London from New York in just 3 hours as it can travel at speed around 990 mph. The company will give it such design which will make flights quitter.
Why the supersonic planes produce sonic booms it complicated to understand. Stating more on it Peter Coen, manager for the Commercial Supersonic Technology Project in NASA stated, “A sonic boom happens because the air doesn’t know the airplane is coming.” When a plane moves at speed lower than the speed of sounds, then one can hear the sounds as hear the sounds wave moves faster than the plane. Well, when it crosses that barrier and moves faster that sounds then it develops many shockwaves. When those powerful shockwaves hit the ground, they create sonic booms. But as per NASA, with a small adjustment in the design of the plane, like adjusting the shape of its nose, wings or its canopy, the shockwaves can be eliminated. After that people will hear soft thumbs.
One of the major highlights of the X-plane will be its long pointy nose. These planes tend to be thin and long so that it can move much faster than light without producing sonic booms. Coen further added, “Low boom supersonic aircraft is that to an extreme.”
The environmental condition also can play a major role in it as it can affect the size of a boom. Douglas Hunsaker, an aeronautical engineer at Utah State University also examining how shockwaves travel through the air. Talking about environmental factors he stated, “In fact, humidity affects it a lot.”
However, it is expected that very soon NASA will develop the X-plane, maybe around 2021 for which the agency has signed $247.5 million contracts with the aeronautics company.