NASA finalizes the preliminary design for its supersonic X plane

NASA finalizes the preliminary design for its supersonic X plane

70 years ago in 1947, captain charles ‘chuck’ yeager become the first pilot to fly faster that the speed of sound, using the bell x-1 airplanecome 2017, NASA are busy working with lockheed martin to design a supersonic passenger jet, opening up the possibility of super high-speed travel up to the flying public. to make their plane suitable for commercial use, NASA set out to avoid–or at least minimize–the ‘supersonic boom’ that occurs when a plane flies faster than sound. instead, NASA want for passengers to only experience a soft ‘thump,’ dubbed by their engineers as a ‘supersonic heartbeat.’ the space exploration company has now reached a major breakthrough in making their plane a reality, completing the initial design review of the craft. 

NASA finalizes the preliminary design for its supersonic X plane
NASA has finalized the design for a plane that flies faster than sound without the supersonic boom
all images courtesy of NASA



the initial design process of the plane goes by the name of QueSST, standing for ‘quiet supersonic transport.’ NASA’s partners, lockheed martin, have been working to create a preliminary design. this week, the design has been approved by senior experts and engineers from across the agency as capable of fulfilling the airplane’s mission objectives, which are to fly at supersonic speeds, but create a soft thud instead of the disruptive sonic boom associated with air supersonic travel today.

NASA finalizes the preliminary design for its supersonic X plane
NASA has partnered with lockheed martin to design the plane



the idea is for the LBFD X-plane to be flown over communities to collect data necessary for regulators to enable supersonic flight over land in the US, and elsewhere in the world. an 8 X 6 ft model of the plane has already been tested in a supersonic wind tunntel at NASA’s research center in cleveland. over the next months, further tests will be performed on the craft, including a static inlet performance test and a low-speed wind tunnel test. NASA’s goal is to get the full-scale piloted plane flying by 2021.NASA finalizes the preliminary design for its supersonic X plane
the preliminary design for NASA’s supersonic plane has been approved as being able to complete its objectives



david richwine, manager for the preliminary design effort under NASA’s commercial supersonic technology explains that ‘managing a project like this is all about moving from one milestone to the next. our strong partnership with lockheed martin helped get us to this point. we’re now one step closer to building an actual X-plane.’

NASA finalizes the preliminary design for its supersonic X plane
NASA aims to get the supersonic plane in the air by 2o21

  • The extremely long, needle-like proboscis and slender fuselage must have a lot to do with minimizing the sonic boom; would have been useful for a design story to mention that.

    Mort d'Urban says:
  • Not a mention that the Anglo / French Concorde was flying passengers supersonically from 1976 -2003, yes 41 years ago!

    Noel says:
  • The so called “camera” bikes used for high speed World records have shown that you can steer bikes using a camera and video screen so a forward looking cockpit in an aircraft is probably no longer needed.

    Chris P says:
  • It also appears there will be no windows. A few years ago Boeing had designed a very fuel efficient “flying wing” passenger craft, also with no windows. But feedback from potential customers indicated this was a deal-breaker, so there went that plane design. Here, the flights might be short enough that folks won’t go nuts inside a little tube for a couple of hours.

    James says:
  • Ay caramba! Worth noting that in prototype form Concorde was flying from 1969. Plus ca change . .

    Adam Brocklehurst says:
  • Maybe they should spend that money brining those children back from Mars and returning them to their parents.

    Earl Simmins says:
  • Short memories. The first supersonic passenger aeroplane was Tupolev Tu144, which flew years before Concord, even though looked like a Concord.

    Tadeuszek says:

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