70 years ago in 1947, Captain Charles ‘Chuck’ Yeager became the first pilot to fly faster that the speed of sound, using the Bell X-1 Airplane.
Come 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.
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 United States, and elsewhere in the world.
An 8 X 6 ft model of the plane has already been tested in a supersonic wind tunnel at NASA’s research centre in Cleveland. Over the next few 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.