If NASA is correct, some frequent flyers may soon get to cut the amount of time they spend on board an airplane in half. That’s because NASA has been busy making gains in improving super sonic air travel — and not just for astronauts.
Supersonic commercial flights have been hiatus since 2003, after the British-French Concorde went belly up to due to expensive operations and prohibitive passenger fares.
While aeronautic enthusiasts mourned the end of such flights, those living in the path of the incoming and outgoing airplanes felt relief that the loud, bone rattling sonic booms of the Concorde would no longer be heard.
If NASA has its way, though, supersonic flights will make a comeback soon, but will do so much more quietly, reports Fox News.
In November, the government space agency will test the effects of the reduced sonic boom on a human population located along the shore of Galveston, Texas. Using a fighter jet, NASA will simulate the intensity of the boom that its planned QSF 18 aircraft will make as it slips into and out of supersonic speed.
“This project, QSF 18, is a test so we can test the methodology for future community response testing for projects like the LBFD (low boom flight demonstrator),” said Larry Cliatt, principal investigator for NASA. The LBFD is a joint project involving Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company and the tests are being monitored by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The Concorde, which became popular in the 1970s and 1980s, flew from Europe to the United States and did so while leaving behind thunderous booms that rattled houses and peoples nerves.
The QSF 18 will also have a audio signature, but it has been described as sounding like a neighbor closing a car door.
The aircraft is expected to be finished for roll out in 2021, but NASA is using an F/A 18 plane to conduct extreme dive maneuvers off the coast of Galveston which will produce the strength of the boom expected from the planned craft.
There are those eagerly awaiting the maiden flight.
“What NASA is doing is a step in the right direction,” said George Abbey, senior fellow in space policy at Rice University’s Baker Institute.
“If I could fly supersonic transport, I could reduce that [travel] time,” Abbey said. “Time is really money, and spending a short time on an airplane vs. a long time, I’d prefer taking the short time.”
The original Concord could cross the Atlantic in just 3.5 hours.