NASA working on quiet supersonic flight

Katie Ramirez
July 5, 2018

The tests involve an F/A-18 Hornet producing dive maneuvers to create sonic booms out at sea and quieter "sonic thumps" over Galveston itself.

During the tests, the F/A-18 Hornet will dive through the air, making louds sonic booms over the Gulf of Mexico and quieter booms over the coastal city of Galveston. In addition, audio sensors will be placed throughout the city.

"We'll never know exactly what everyone heard". We won't have a noise monitor on their shoulder inside their home. "But we'd at least want to estimate an estimate of the noise level that they actually heard".

An initial test of the research methodology using the F/A-18 was conducted in 2011 with the help of the United States military community that lives on base at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The project of this low-noise and fast aircraft was awarded to Lockheed Martin on a $247.5 million contract.

Until now, NASA says the plane had simply been called the X-plane and that it has a shape that prevents the shockwaves to come together, which is what produces that dreaded booming sound. However, Ed Haering, a NASA aerospace engineer at Armstrong said that you might barely hear anything at all. The tests will aim to determine just how loud NASA's new "quiet" supersonic technology really is, and compare it to the sounds of a traditional sonic boom.

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

The X-59 is scheduled for delivery by the end of 2021. In the meantime, flight tests - such as the ones in Galveston with the F/A-18 Hornet - will help the agency gather data that may one day help lift federal and worldwide bans on supersonic flight over land, NASA said. NASA is reportedly developing a "quiet" supersonic aircraft that could potentially revolutionize air travel.

But these new regulations may still be years away.

"For everyone working on this important project, this is great news and we're thrilled with the designation", Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator for NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, said in the NASA statement.

Moreover, volunteer feedback on the F/A-18 flight tests will help scientists develop better survey questions, noise measurements and data analysis for the QueSST's eventual test flights, NASA said.

In the video below you can hear a traditional sonic boom at the 43-second mark and a sonic thump at the 02:34 mark.

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