NASA Conducts ‘Quiet Sonic Boom’ Tests in Texas to Prepare for Supersonic Flight

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NASA Conducts ‘Quiet Sonic Boom’ Tests in Texas to Prepare for Supersonic Flight

Keep your ear to the ground (or the sky), Texas. NASA has started conducting a series of quiet supersonic research flights off the Texas Gulf Coast to monitor how residents respond to the noise from a new experimental aircraft that could cut commercial flight times by half.

The agency began “quiet sonic boom” tests near Galveston using F/A-18 jets as part of its Quiet Supersonic Flights 2018, or QSF18, campaign, on Monday, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Usually an aircraft flying at supersonic speed makes a very loud sonic “boom!” sound. But for these tests, the research aircraft is flying a unique pattern that creates a much quieter sound over the land, according to NASA.

NASA recruited some 500 residents to participate in the two-week-long research activity. Participants are asked to fill out a brief online survey several times each day about their impressions of any noise they hear from the F/A-18 jet.

NASA officials are hoping the Galveston tests will help perfect supersonic flight.

“QSF18 is a big step in NASA’s efforts to understand what is required for acceptable supersonic overland flight,” said Peter Coen, NASA’s commercial supersonic technology project manager, in a statement.

“This is the first time in decades that we have reached out to a large community as part of our supersonic research,” Coen said. “NASA has performed similar tests at our Armstrong Flight Research Center, using similar sounds created by the same F/A-18. We’ve measured the noise levels and the impact on structures, as well as surveyed people for annoyance, to make certain that these tests are safe and well-planned.”

In several years, the X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology X-plane, or QueSST, will test its quiet supersonic technologies by flying over communities in the US. (Photo Credit: NASA)

While preliminary flight research continues using F-18 research aircraft, NASA’s test pilots and engineers are developing and training with state-of-the-art tools, including simulators, an advanced eXternal Vision System (XVS), and community response technologies in anticipation of the X-59, which is designed so that when flying supersonic, people on the ground will hear nothing more than a sonic thump – if anything at all.

Lockheed Martin is scheduled to begin construction of the X-59 at its Skunk Works plant in Palmdale, California, in early 2019.

Once fully tested and deemed safe to fly within the national airspace, the X-59 in 2023 will begin making supersonic flights over select communities to measure residents’ reactions to any noise they might hear.

The X-59 could eventually reduce commercial flight times by half.

The Concorde, an airplane that was tested decades ago, could cross the Atlantic in just over three hours by traveling twice the speed of sound, but federal aviation officials banned it after residents complained about the plane’s sonic boom, the AP reported.

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NASA Conducts 'Quiet Sonic Boom' Tests In Texas To Prepare For Supersonic Flight
NASA Conducts 'Quiet Sonic Boom' Tests In Texas To Prepare For Supersonic Flight
NASA Conducts 'Quiet Sonic Boom' Tests In Texas To Prepare For Supersonic Flight
NASA Conducts 'Quiet Sonic Boom' Tests In Texas To Prepare For Supersonic Flight
NASA Conducts 'Quiet Sonic Boom' Tests In Texas To Prepare For Supersonic Flight

NASA Conducts 'Quiet Sonic Boom' Tests In Texas To Prepare For Supersonic Flight

NASA Conducts 'Quiet Sonic Boom' Tests In Texas To Prepare For Supersonic Flight

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