June 27, 2017

NASA completes milestone toward quieter supersonic X-plane

NASA has achieved a significant milestone in its effort to make supersonic passenger jet travel over land a real possibility by completing the preliminary design review of its Quiet Supersonic Transport or QueSST aircraft design.

QueSST is the initial design stage of NASA’s planned Low Boom Flight Demonstration experimental airplane, otherwise known as an X-plane.

Senior experts and engineers from across the agency and the Lockheed Martin Corporation concluded June 23 that the QueSST design is capable of fulfilling the LBFD aircraft’s mission objectives, which are to fly at supersonic speeds, but create a soft “thump” instead of the disruptive sonic boom associated with supersonic flight today. The LBFD X-plane will 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.

NASA partnered with lead contractor, Lockheed Martin, in February 2016 for the QueSST preliminary design. Last month, a scale model of the QueSST design completed testing in the 8-by 6-foot supersonic wind tunnel at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

“Managing a project like this is all about moving from one milestone to the next,” said David Richwine, manager for the preliminary design effort under NASA’s Commercial Supersonic Technology Project. “Our strong partnership with Lockheed Martin helped get us to this point. We’re now one step closer to building an actual X-plane.”

After the success of completing the PDR, NASA’s project team can start the process of soliciting proposals later this year and awarding a contract early next year to build the piloted, single-engine X-plane. The acquisition for the LBFD X-plane contract will be fully open and competitive, with the QueSST preliminary design data being made available to qualified bidders. Flight testing of an LBFD X-plane could begin as early as 2021.

Over the next few months, NASA will work with Lockheed on finalizing the QueSST preliminary design effort. This includes a static inlet performance test and a low-speed wind tunnel test at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.



Headlines – March 16, 2018

News How Did Astronaut DNA Become ‘Fake News’? – For a brief moment, NASA found itself at the center of a digital misinformation campaign.   Business Defiant undergoing rigorous testing prior to first flight this year – The Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant coaxial helicopter demonstrator is now undergoing rigorous testing prior to its first flight expected...

News Briefs – March 16, 2018

F/A-18F crashes off coast of Florida An F/A-18F Super Hornet crashed on final approach to Boca Chica Field, Naval Air Station, Key West, Fla., at approximately 4:30 p.m., EDT, March 14. Search and rescue crews were notified shortly after the crash where they recovered both the pilot and weapons systems officer from the water approximately...
NASA photograph by Lauren Hughes

NASA Armstrong successfully flies new subscale aircraft

The Subscale Research Lab at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California recently introduced a new addition to their fleet of miniature aircraft. The not-so-small MicroCub is a Bill Hempel 60-percent-scale super cub...