Published: Thu, July 05, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

NASA to test their quiet supersonic aircraft tech over populated areas

NASA to test their quiet supersonic aircraft tech over populated areas

From November, NASA will use supersonic F/A-18 Hornet jets over Galveston to mimic the sonic profile of the X-59 while a group of around 500 residents document the noise levels - if there are any. It's a fluid dynamics thing: When an aircraft traveling through the air - the fluid - moves at increasingly fast speeds, the molecules of air at its nose get increasingly compressed. To counter this noise problem, the space agency has been hard at work since 2016 in building the X-59, an aeroplane that can fly over Mach 1 or break the sound barrier, but not produce any loud, booming sounds.

He's keeping the goal of a specific point on the ground where, somewhere forward, the NASA researcher will listen to the sky because hundreds of recruited volunteers go about their daily business, who are prepared to report on being ahead - if they see anything. After the plane is fully tested and is considered safe, in late 2022 to begin the first experimental flights of the apparatus over certain localities of the United States.

NASA's team leader for sonic boom community response research at Langley, Alexandra Loubeau, said, "We never know what everyone has heard".

Preliminary testing of the research methodology using the F/A-18 was conducted in 2011 with the assistance of the military community living on the grounds in Edwards Air Force Base in California. "But we'd like to at least have an estimate of the range of noise levels that they actually heard".

Formerly known as "Low-Flight Flight Demonstrator", the project has been renamed X-59 QueSST.

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The QueSST is expected to debut by the end of 2021, NASA said.

Some background: Supersonic travel over land has been banned in the United States since 1973, owing to the huge noise produced when a plane breaks the sound barrier.

NASA recently awarded Lockheed Martin a $247.5 million contract to build the highly anticipated aircraft.

NASA says that it will continue to carry out testing flights over other USA towns in order to gather more ground information; this of course will happen only after Lockheed Martin is able to properly construct the aircraft and NASA is able to establish the proper noise credentials.

Why it matters: The results will help verify whether these thumps are quiet enough to avoid disturbing residential areas, and establish a testing process for the X-59. You can hear a double boom at 43 seconds and a thump at 2:34.

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