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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

NASA And Lockheed In Partnership To Resurrect Supersonic Air Transport

NASA And Lockheed In Partnership To Resurrect Supersonic Air Transport

NASA is set to bring back supersonic transport. NASA in collaboration with Lockheed Martin are planning to make the supersonic passenger travel a reality once again. It can be remembered that Concorde, the last turbojet-powered supersonic passenger jet that was made jointly by France and the U.K. has already retired in 2003. The newest supersonic passenger aircraft will be morei nnovative and more fuel efficient and could soon be quietly traversing the skies at mach 2 speeds.

A supersonic transport (SST) is a civilian supersonic aircraft designed to transport passengers at speeds greater than the speed of sound. To date, the only SSTs to see regular service have been Concorde and the Tupolev Tu-144. The last passenger flight for the Tu-144 was in June 1978 and it was last flown in 1999 by NASA. Concorde's last commercial flight was in October 2003, with a November 26, 2003 ferry flight being its last airborne operation. 
Following the permanent cessation of flying by Concorde, there are no remaining SSTs in commercial service. Supersonic airliners have been the objects of numerous recent and ongoing design studies. Drawbacks and design challenges are excessive noise generation (at takeoff and due to sonic booms during flight), high development costs, expensive construction materials, great weight, and an increased cost per seat over subsonic airliners. Despite these challenges, Concorde was operated profitably in a niche market for over 27 years. - wikipedia
It is noted that it took time for the turbojet-powered Concorde to become highly profitable, as both the hardware and maintenance were considerably costs expensively than traditional jets. On the other hand, people were willing to pay a premium to travel across the Atlantic at mach 2, thus cutting travel time in half.

The said program is part of the New Aviation Horizons initiative, it is known as a ten year program to develop new aviation technologies using NASA technology. NASA has been working on the underlying tech for a few years already. This project with Lockheed will be the first real world test of NASA’s Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST).

The experimental QueSST aircraft is going to be about half-scale of a full passenger jet, but it will be used to validate the underlying ideas of quieter supersonic flight. Lockheed martin is reported to be getting $20 million resource from NASA to fund the design of the aircraft. Construction will be handled in a future contract competition. It is anticipated that this will be the low-boom aircraft that will take us to the sky and those on the ground won’t even notice it when it’s flying overhead.


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