The creative and genius minds behind NASA have announced plans for a new generation of its already famous X-Planes. NASA is looking to continue its streak of innovation at the helm of current needs, with environmental impact at the forefront of the aviation concerns they wish to tackle.
NASA continues to impress with innovative design technology
Going back decades, NASA has been responsible for numerous developments beyond spacecraft. One may recall their release of such popular items as memory foam (hello, Tempur-Pedic!), scratch resistant glasses and the item that brought relief to diabetics everywhere, insulin pumps.
Since the launch of the X-1 plane in 1946, many milestones were reached through this NASA-funded program. The X-1 broke the sound barrier in October, 1947. Along the way, other records have been set, including the creation of planes that could fly at altitudes in excess of 30,000, 60,000, and 90,000 meters, as well as planes that could fly three, four, five and six times the speed of sound.
Earth-friendly flying options a top NASA priority
Now the agency is looking to fuel the future of aviation using green technology.
With the launch of its New Aviation Horizons Initiative, NASA is looking to develop a new generation of X-Planes over the next ten years. Efforts are focused towards the reduction of global carbon emissions. They are attempting to lower or eradicate the use of fossil fuels, something air fleets the world over continue to rely on heavily.
As with all projects of this caliber, the process will take time. NASA expects the design and building process of its first new generation X-Plane to take several years.
Lockheed Martin on board with QueSST designs
Lockheed Martin, who won a $20 million contract this past February, will oversee the project. The team is working to create preliminary designs for NASA’s Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) ahead of the first flight that is currently set to take off in 2020 (factor pending).
The aim of QueSST is to alleviate the sonic boom created when the X-Planes break the sound barrier.
NASA is currently only in the planning stages, but if all goes well, it is possible that the world may see faster, quieter and more environmentally friendly options for air travel within a decade.