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A new passenger jet that can fly at supersonic speeds without the distinctive but earsplitting sonic "boom" generated when these superfast planes travel faster than the speed of sound is one step closer to getting in the air. NASA has awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin Aeronautics to come up with a preliminary design for the supersonic jet. The company will receive $20 million over 17 months to come up with a preliminary design, according to NASA. The Lockheed team includes individuals from GE Aviation and Tri Models Inc., acting as subcontractors, the agency said. NASA envisions a "low boom" aircraft that emits a supersonic "heartbeat," or a soft thump, rather than startlingly noisy sonic booms, when it breaks the sound barrier. At the end of its contract, Lockheed will be expected to outline the proposed jet's baseline requirements and design in order to meet NASA's expectations for the agency's Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) program. [Supersonic! The 10 Fastest Military Airplanes] After a demonstration version of the jet is built, the vehicle will undergo analytical and wind-tunnel tests, according to NASA. "Developing, building and flight testing a quiet supersonic X-plane is the next logical step in our path to enabling the industry's decision to open supersonic travel for the flying public," Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator for NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, said in a statement. Once the jet is ready for flight tests, NASA will conduct low-boom flight demonstrations to gauge the public's response to quieter supersonic planes. The actual design and construction of the QueSST jet will be awarded under a future contract, NASA officials said. The loud booms generated by supersonic aircraft prompted the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to ban overland flights by these aircraft in 1973. NASA, however, said in a previous statement that it is working with the FAA to change those regulations. [Image Gallery: Breaking the Sound Barrier] "We are working with other agencies across the world to support development of new noise certification for supersonic flight, so instead of being prohibited, it would be allowed over land and sea," Alexandra Loubeau, an acoustics engineer at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, said in a statement released in late 2015. The QueSST jet is the first in a series of X-planes that will receive funding in NASA's fiscal 2017 budget, as a part of the agency's New Aviation Horizons initiative. The initiative aims to make future aircraft safer, "greener" and more efficient, using metrics such as fuel use, emissions and noise to judge their performance. The first flights under NASA's New Aviation Horizons initiative are expected to begin around 2020, depending on funding, the agency said. Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

« Airbus using enthalpy wheel to reduce jetliner painting emissions | Main | ViriCiti, Simacan tool predicts energy usage and savings per route by driving electric » NASA has awarded a contract for the preliminary design of a quiet, “low boom” supersonic flight demonstration aircraft—the first in a new series of ‘X-planes’ in NASA’s New Aviation Horizons initiative, introduced in the agency’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget. The 10-year New Aviation Horizons initiative has the goals of reducing fuel use, emissions and noise through innovations in aircraft design that departs from the conventional tube-and-wing aircraft shape. NASA selected a team led by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company to complete a preliminary design for Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST). Lockheed Martin will receive about $20 million over 17 months for QueSST preliminary design work. The Lockheed Martin team includes subcontractors GE Aviation and Tri Models Inc.. The work will be conducted under a task order against the Basic and Applied Aerospace Research and Technology (BAART) contract at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. NASA’s recent focus on supersonic research testing began in November 2010 as part of the project’s Experimental Systems Validations for N+2 Supersonic Commercial Transport Aircraft effort. In 2014, Peter Coen, manager of NASA’s High Speed Project with the agency’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate’s Fundamental Aeronautics Program, observed that “There are three barriers particular to civil supersonic flight; sonic boom, high altitude emissions and airport noise. Of the three, boom is the most significant problem.” Research by NASA, the military and the aircraft industry has determined that a variety of factors, from the shape and position of aircraft components to the propulsion system’s characteristics, determine the make-up of a supersonic aircraft’s sonic boom. Therefore, engineers are able to tune or “shape” a boom signature through design to minimize the loudness of the boom it produces in flight. NASA is working hard to make flight greener, safer and quieter—all while developing aircraft that travel faster, and building an aviation system that operates more efficiently. To that end, it’s worth noting that it’s been almost 70 years since Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 as part of our predecessor agency’s high speed research. Now we’re continuing that supersonic X-plane legacy with this preliminary design award for a quieter supersonic jet with an aim toward passenger flight. In 2015, NASA’s Commercial Supersonic Technology Project awarded eight studies more than $2.3 million in funding for research to address sonic booms and high-altitude emissions from supersonic jets. These awards were: NASA and its partners have made advances toward sonic boom reduction with the development and validation of new boom-reduction aircraft shaping tools, wind tunnel testing and flight experiments. Acoustic studies conducted in laboratories and in-flight tests using special maneuvers have indicated that the boom levels that can now be achieved may produce little or no disturbance to communities. After conducting feasibility studies and working to better understand acceptable sound levels across the country, NASA’s Commercial Supersonic Technology Project asked industry teams to submit design concepts for a piloted test aircraft that can fly at supersonic speeds but create a soft thump rather than the disruptive boom currently associated with supersonic flight. The company will develop baseline aircraft requirements and a preliminary aircraft design, with specifications, and provide supporting documentation for concept formulation and planning. This documentation would be used to prepare for the detailed design, building and testing of the QueSST jet. Performance of this preliminary design also must undergo analytical and wind tunnel validation. In addition to design and building, this Low Boom Flight Demonstration (LBFD) phase of the project also will include validation of community response to the new, quieter supersonic design. The detailed design and building of the QueSST aircraft, conducted under the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate’s Integrated Aviation Systems Program, will fall under a future contract competition. The New Aviation Horizons X-planes will typically be about half-scale of a production aircraft and likely are to be piloted. Design-and-build will take several years with aircraft starting their flight campaign around 2020, depending on funding.

News Article | September 13, 2016
Site: cleantechnica.com

Randall Munroe might be a name some of you don’t know, but most everyone will, at one time or another, have come across his greatest creation — the webcomic XKCD. Munroe is not just a web cartoonist, however, having started his career as contract programmer and roboticist for NASA at the Langley Research Center before and after his graduation, before eventually turning to writing XKCD. So when Munroe tackles issues beyond Cueball’s exploration of the world and his friends’ hobbies, we don’t need to assume it’s just another celebrity with a bit of internet fame stepping beyond their expertise. Randall Munroe gets to step anywhere he wants. The most recent XKCD comic is entitled Earth Temperature Timeline, and provides “A Timeline Of Earth’s Average Temperature”, done in Munroe’s famous stick-figure, hand-written style, but with all the evidence of scientific research and rigour one would hope for. It shows what it actually means when someone says “the climate has changed before” — and compares those actual ‘changes’ with the unprecedented change that is currently underway. The massive image is found below, or over at XKCD.com.   Drive an electric car? Complete one of our short surveys for our next electric car report.   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.  

« New BMW Brilliance engine plant with light metal foundry in China; high-voltage battery production to come | Main | Nissan announces UK production for future generation EV batteries » Orbital ATK successfully tested a 3D-printed hypersonic engine combustor at NASA Langley Research Center. The combustor, produced through an additive manufacturing process known as powder bed fusion (PBF), was subjected to a variety of high-temperature hypersonic flight conditions over the course of 20 days, including one of the longest duration propulsion wind tunnel tests ever recorded for a unit of this kind. Analysis confirms the unit met or exceeded all of the test requirements. One of the most challenging parts of the propulsion system, a scramjet combustor, houses and maintains stable combustion within an extremely volatile environment. The tests were, in part, to ensure that the PBF-produced part would be robust enough to meet mission objectives. Additive manufacturing opens up new possibilities for our designers and engineers. This combustor is a great example of a component that was impossible to build just a few years ago. This successful test will encourage our engineers to continue to explore new designs and use these innovative tools to lower costs and decrease manufacturing time. —Pat Nolan, Vice President and General Manager of Orbital ATK’s Missile Products division of the Defense Systems Group The test at Langley was an important opportunity to challenge Orbital ATK’s new combustor design, made possible only through the additive manufacturing process. Complex geometries and assemblies that once required multiple components can be simplified to a single, more cost-effective assembly. However, since the components are built one layer at a time, it is now possible to design features and integrated components that could not be easily cast or otherwise machined. PBF is one of several manufacturing methods currently being explored by Orbital ATK and its technology partners. Final assembly of the test combustor was completed at the company’s facilities in Ronkonkoma, New York, and Allegany Ballistics Laboratory in Rocket Center, West Virginia.

To see how new rocket and aircraft designs perform under pressure, NASA's aeronautical innovators are painting model prototypes an eye-searing hot pink for wind tunnel tests in California and Virginia. The wild paint job isn't just for looks. NASA engineers are using a pressure-sensitive paint (PSP) that can show — with a dazzling glow — how the surface of a rocket or aircraft model responds to pressure. NASA is conducting the tests in wind tunnels at the agency's Ames Research Center in California and Langley Research Center in Virginia. Here's how it works: Once inside the wind tunnel, the model aircraft is illuminated with blue LED lights to give the fluorescent paint a bright-pink glow. Then, high-speed winds flow across the model, creating a range of surface pressures across different parts of the aircraft. [NASA's Vision of Future Air Travel in Pictures] Oxygen in the wind reacts with luminophores, or fluorescent particles, in the paint, quenching its glow under high pressure. The varying shades of dull and bright pink that result allow researchers to visualize exactly how the pressure is distributed. "PSP is great because, as long as you can apply paint to the area you want to test, illuminate it with a lamp and view it with a camera, you can gather data you might not otherwise be able to get," Nettie Roozeboom, an aerospace engineer at NASA's Ames Research Center, said in a statement. Understanding how pressure is distributed over the surfaces of an aircraft is important for designing new planes that don't fall apart while flying in high-speed winds. But it also helps engineers build aircraft that are more efficient. With less wind resistance, aircraft require less fuel, emit less pollution and produce less noise. NASA has used PSP to test airplanes for more than 25 years. Today, the agency is working to make more effective PSPs to test vehicles that leave Earth as well. The goal is to create a new and improved PSP that responds faster to pressure while also being less sensitive to temperature than the existing technology is. But there is one thing about this paint that will likely never change: its neon-pink glow. Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@space.com or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com. Copyright 2016 SPACE.com, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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