NASA launched the New Aviation Horizons initiative. It’s a new generation of X-planes. Fuelled by greener energy, use half the fuel. New X-Planes are half as loud as commercial aircraft in use today.
In October 1947, Pilot Chuck Yeager, broke the sound barrier with NASA’s X-1 plane. NASA’s X-series of planes have a special place in aviation history. The last jet in this series was the X-56 which was tested in 2013 for long endurance unmanned flights.
“The X-1 was certainly the most historic for being the first and for what it did for supersonic flight.”
“They (X-palnes) certainly are all interesting in their own way. Each one of them has a unique place in aviation that helps them make their mark in history.” said Bill Barry, Nasa’s chief historian.
Design work already has begun on QueSST (Quiet Supersonic Technology). The initial contract was given in February to a team headed by Lockheed Martin. This new supersonic X-plane could fly in the 2020 timeframe.
QueSST aims to fix something the X-1 first introduced to the flying world nearly 70 years ago the publicly annoying loud sonic boom.
“We know the concept is going to work. But the best way to continue our research, is to demonstrate the capability to the public with an X-plane.” said Peter Coen, Nasa’s supersonic project manager.
The goals of new initiative are
- how airlines can burn half the fuel and generate 75 percent less pollution during each flight as compared to now.
- much quieter than today’s jets perhaps even when flying supersonic.
“If we can build some of these X-planes and demonstrate some of these technologies. We expect that will make it much easier and faster for US industry to pick them up and roll them out into the marketplace.” added Ed Waggoner, Nasa’s Integrated Aviation Systems Programme director.
With 199 flights from 1959 to 1968, X-15 crossed the hypersonic speed. Design concepts and operational procedures of X-15 has also contributed to the development of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo-piloted spaceflight programmes as well as the space shuttle.