NASA’s new passenger craft will make ocean crossings shorter than the time it takes to watch a movie

This imaginary supersonic aircraft is just an illustration. But NASA is working with the aerospace industry's major players and key creative workshops to develop a concept for a passenger aircraft that could even enable daily commutes over the oceans / Photo: Boeing/NASA
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Imagine soaring from New York to London in less time than it takes to finish an average movie. NASA’s recent groundbreaking venture is aimed at revolutionizing transatlantic travel. They’ve embarked on the creation of a supersonic passenger jet that boasts a blistering top speed of Mach 4 (approximately 4,900 km/h). To put this in perspective, this not only doubles Concorde’s impressive Mach 2 (2,450 km/h) speed but also outpaces the famed SR-71 Blackbird spy plane that had a design speed of Mach 3.2 (3,920 km/h).

For those unfamiliar, the Concorde was a turbojet-powered supersonic passenger airliner that operated from 1976 to 2003 and was noted for its ability to cross the Atlantic Ocean in under three hours.

Addressing the Sonic Boom Hurdle

While the magic of supersonic travel is alluring, it’s no secret that it comes with its own set of challenges. Chief among these is the sonic boom – a loud explosive noise caused when an aircraft surpasses the speed of sound. This very phenomenon led to the premature retirement of Concorde, given that many countries, including the U.S., imposed bans on supersonic flights over land due to the disturbances they caused.

This imaginary supersonic aircraft is just an illustration. But NASA is working with the aerospace industry's major players and key creative workshops to develop a concept for a passenger aircraft that could even enable daily commutes over the oceans / Photo: Boeing/NASA
This imaginary supersonic aircraft is just an illustration. But NASA is working with the aerospace industry’s major players and key creative workshops to develop a concept for a passenger aircraft that could even enable daily commutes over the oceans / Photo: Boeing/NASA

However, hope reigns as NASA’s Quests mission embarks on an ambitious journey to silence this sonic boom. They’ve initiated the X-59 QuessT project, an experimental quiet supersonic aircraft, offering a solution to the long-standing noise challenge. Interestingly, this problem dissipates when flights are conducted over oceans, rendering the sonic boom a non-issue for transoceanic routes.

NASA’s strategy, as outlined in their official statement, is clear. “Given the supersonic restrictions over land, our studies predominantly focused on transoceanic travel, targeting high-density routes across the North Atlantic and Pacific.”

Collaborative Efforts in Aerospace

Pushing the boundaries of aviation technology necessitates collective expertise. In light of this, NASA is ushering in a collaborative approach by inviting industry stalwarts to contribute to this landmark project under their Advanced Aircraft Program.

Boeing, a renowned name in aviation, will helm the first team, accompanied by industry giants like Exosonic, GE Aerospace, and the prestigious Rolls-Royce North American Technologies. Not far behind, Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems will spearhead the second contract, in conjunction with powerhouses like Boom Supersonic and Rolls-Royce North American Technologies.

These coalitions will delve deep into the intricacies of aircraft design – from airframe to propulsion – ensuring the final design is not only efficient but also environmentally friendly.

Mary Jo Long-Davis, the driving force behind NASA’s Hypersonic Technology Project, encapsulated the venture’s ethos: “It’s imperative to ensure our innovations are responsible, prioritizing safety, efficiency, and sustainability. The ultimate aim is to offer unprecedented benefits to travelers without compromising our environment.”

Final Thoughts and Recommendations

This venture by NASA has set the stage for a new era in aviation. While it promises exceptional speed, it’s crucial for regulators and manufacturers to ensure safety remains paramount. Future travelers may need to adapt to this new mode of transportation, considering factors like faster boarding processes and potential price variations. But, if successful, this project could redefine our approach to international travel, making the world feel just a bit smaller.

Source: NASA

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