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NASA Launches Study of X-Planes Supersonic Jets, Commits to Green Aviation Technology

Apr 25, 2016 12:12 PM EDT
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Most high-powered jets, airplanes and other spacecrafts and their engines need fuel energy to function. But recently, scientists have been developing eco-friendly alternatives. A solar-powered plane is currently on its maiden flight across the globe. NASA also recently launched their own X-Planes project, which aims to produce greener and quieter jets with minimal effect to the environment.

In a report by NASA, they said the X-Planes project will be the front line for the New Aviation Horizons Initiative to make passenger jets which can travel faster than the speed of sound and yet be quieter than the usual jets, making them "greener" or more environmentally-friendly. According to NASA, the project is included in their 2017 fiscal budget, as announced by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

Bolden added that "NASA is working hard to make flights greener, safer and quieter - all while developing aircrafts that travel faster... and building an aviation system that operates more efficiently."

NASA is known to develop all types of aircrafts, but this time it is different. The X-Planes supersonic jets are geared towards "Green Aviation" whose technology doesn't just aim to be advanced, but to be less harmful to the environment as well.

According to Gizmodo, NASA has a long list of significant aviation technology linked to the X-Planes series. "The X-Planes have historically been at the cutting edge of technology: X-1, flown by Chuck Yeager, broke the sound barrier in October 1947. Other aircraft in the series have their own share of major advances, demonstrating sweeping wings, ramjets, Vertical Take Off and Landing, and others. The last in the series was the X-56 in 2013, which tested high-altitude, long endurance flights for unmanned aircrafts." Today, the newest project, X-Planes Supersonic is the latest of the series.

The project will be spearheaded by the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company of Palmdale, California. They are tasked to complete a preliminary design for the Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST). Lockheed will be granted a $20 million budget.

Their main aim is to get rid of the disruptive sound associated with supersonic flights; NASA wants to replace this with a supersonic "heartbeat" or a soft thump. Also, NASA wants to reduce fuel use and carbon emissions with this technology. They aim to test the X-Planes Supersonic jets in 2020.

With the growth of "green aviation technology," people hope to find better alternatives to flying in the future. Saving fuel and reducing carbon emission will make the world last longer for more generations to enjoy the wonders of the world and the technologies we enjoy today.

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