November 12, 2019 / EX1

NASA's heritage of studying supersonic flight reaches back more than 70 years. That accumulated knowledge, especially as it relates to understanding sonic booms and how to make them quieter, is at the heart of what the mission is about. It's taken years of hard work and the latest in wind-tunnel testing, advanced computer simulation tools, and actual flight testing to reach this point where it's time to prove the theory in the air with a large-scale supersonic X-plane.

NASA's aeronautical innovators are leading a government-industry team to collect data that could make supersonic flight over land possible, dramatically reducing travel time in the United States or anywhere in the world.
The Low-Boom Flight Demonstration mission has two goals: 1) design and build a piloted, large-scale supersonic X-plane with technology that reduces the loudness of a sonic boom to that of a gentle thump; and 2) fly the X-plane over select U.S. communities to gather data on human responses to the low-boom flights and deliver that data set to U.S. and international regulators. Using this data, new sound-based rules regarding supersonic flight over land can be written and adopted, which would open the doors to new commercial cargo and passenger markets to provide faster-than-sound air travel.

Elements of NASA's quiet supersonic technology mission are organized within two of the agency's aeronautics programs — the Advanced Air Vehicles Program and the Integrated Aviation Systems Program -- and managed by a systems project office whose members span both programs and all four of NASA's aeronautical research field centers: Langley Research Center in Virginia; Glenn Research Center in Cleveland; and Ames Research Center and Armstrong Flight Research Center, which are both located in California.

Photograph Below. Model in the Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel 9-by 7-foot test section. Test to refine sonic boom test techniques and measure sonic boom signatures of various supersonic aircraft designs.