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NASA’s First Test to Lower the Sound of Sonic Booms Was Successful

The Concorde's successor might be quieter.

NASA’s First Test to Lower the Sound of Sonic Booms Was Successful
The small scale model of X-59. NASA's Glenn Research Center

NASA has completed the first test of the works on lowering the volume of supersonic flights in an effort to lift the ban on commercial supersonic flights, NASA's Glenn Research Center announced.

The sonic booms happen when the merge of shock waves, created by breaking the sound barrier at the speed of 767 mph (1,235 kph). The huge amount of sound energy, approximately  110 decibels, generated by sonic booms sounds like thunderclaps or explosions and can be heard from 30 miles (48 km) away, which is why supersonic commercial flights are banned by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

NASA engineers working on the Commercial Supersonic Technology (CST) project tested the agency’s boom-reducing technology and its predicting capabilities on a small scale model of an X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) airplane, in NASA Glenn's 8- by 6-foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel. X-59 is dubbed as the son of Concorde, the first supersonic passenger-carrying commercial airplane.

The small-scale model was tested for two weeks and the results of shock wave measurements matched the computer-modeled shock waves that suggest quieter supersonic flights.

The full-scale X-59 QueSST is currently being constructed by NASA and aerospace company Lockheed Martin at Lockheed’s Skunk Works division in Palmdale, California. The supersonic airplane is expected to begin its initial tests in late 2022. And if the airplane successfully completed the tests, NASA will then verify that the aircraft’s quiet supersonic technology performs in flight as designed.  

CST project aims to reduce the sonic boom to make it much quieter. Clayton Meyers, deputy project manager of the CST project said, "This is the team’s opportunity to get data at the low sound levels produced in the tunnel."

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If X-59 demonstrates the ability to lower the sound of sonic booms, and supersonic flights are cleared for commercial travel, X-59 could fly from London to New York in just three hours. The airplane, which is 99.7 feet (29,5 m) long and 29,5 feet (9 m) wide, is specifically designed to minimize the sound of sonic booms.

We can at least be able to reach supersonic speeds in flights while we are waiting for teleportation to become a daily transportation model.

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