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Hypersonic Planes Are Arriving Soon, Aerospace Officials Announce

Nov 14, 2016 04:20 AM EST
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Hypersonic flights may be able to make travels from cities on opposite sides of the world much easier. New York to London will, in fact, be just as fast as half an hour, and aerospace officials said we are a few decades away from the possibility.

Experts from NASA, the U.S. Air Force, and Lockheed Martin told listeners at the recent Forum on American Aeronautics that hypersonic planes are "inevitable."

According to Science Alert, this means the arrival of planes that are capable of traveling at more than five times the speed of sound are possible.

This means planes will be capable of achieving speeds like 4,800 km/h (3,000 mph), making London to Sydney go as far as two hours.

NASA's David McBride said hypersonic and supersonic passenger planes are technologies that are well within human grasp. Supersonic means being able to travel faster than the speed of sound, while hypersonic is five times as fast.

The possibility of hypersonic travel will make planes less of a nuisance to forces on the ground.

Aerospace engineers and military experts explained the technology will be easily achievable through a few decades of development. They explained the field of aerospace today is at a point where things are happening all at once.

Strangely, hypersonic flight was already achieved in 1967. This was done by an aeronautical engineer William Knight with a rocket-powered North American X-15. It cruised at 7,274 km/h (4,250 mph or speeds of Mach 6.72) and even reached the edge of space.

Sadly, the record is still unbeaten. So far, Airbus has already patented a hypersonic jet that can fly from London and New York at Mach 4.5 speeds, or 4.5 times the speed of sound.

A joint US-Australian military project called the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation passed a crucial test in the Australian desert.

The HiFiRE technology already achieved an altitude of 278 km at a speed of Mach 7.5. This means the craft can reach anywhere on the planet in a matter of hours.

However, it would still take 4.5 hours to fly from New York to Los Angeles as it did 30 years ago, which means there has to be a problem somewhere.

It lies with the sonic boom, as in the shockwave and the boom sound the aircraft makes by the time it hits the sound barrier. All supersonic aircraft have been banned from flying over land in the U.S. because of the booms they generate.

NASA is already in the process of making a jet that wouldn't make the same boom sound, which would hopefully have its tests in 2020.

Another problem is the lack of follow-ups every after a big breakthrough -- or the lack thereof.

Scientists are encouraging enthusiasts to continue raising money for research efforts instead of casually giving up the process in order to ensure the continuity of the field.

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