NASA is wind tunnel testing what it hopes to be a new supersonic passenger jet design that will be much quieter than the Concorde. Teaming up with Lockheed Martin, NASA plans to develop what they call ‘Quiet Supersonic Technology’ or QueSST, in their new X-plane design concept.

Watch: NASA Wind Tunnel Testing on their new Quiet Supersonic Technology

The agency is testing a nine percent scale model of Lockheed Martin’s X-plane design in Glenn’s 8’ x 6’ Supersonic Wind Tunnel. During the next eight weeks, engineers will expose the model to wind speeds ranging from Mach 0.3 to Mach 1.6 (approximately 150 to 950 mph) to understand the aerodynamics of the X-plane design as well as aspects of the propulsion system. NASA expects the QueSST X-plane to pave the way for supersonic flight over land in the not too distant future.

“We’ll be measuring the lift, drag and side forces on the model at different angles of attack to verify that it performs as expected,” said aerospace engineer Ray Castner, who leads propulsion testing for NASA’s QueSST effort. “We also want to make sure the air flows smoothly into the engine under all operating conditions.” – NASA

NASA is working hard to redefine the rules for supersonic flight over land. Their goal is to produce an X-plane by 2020 with a unique design that separates the shock waves and expansions associated with supersonic flight ‘dramatically‘ reducing the noise produced by the aircraft.

Can you envision the day where you can purchase an affordable ticket and fly from New York to London in three and a half hours again like you could on the Concorde? How about Los Angeles to New York in under two hours? Will it ever happen or do you think supersonic passenger service is just too expensive and complicated for ordinary airline travel?

Featured image by NASA

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