Author Topic: NASA Administrator to Make X-Plane Announcement at Reagan National Media Event  (Read 60104 times)

Offline pippin

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It's normal that progress in a more mature technology field looks like it's slower than in nascent areas.
That's partly because all the low-hanging-fruit developments have already been done and partly simply because compared to an impressive status quo even fundamental breakthroughs don't look as dramatic.

That doesn't mean nothing is happen ending or being achieved, actually typically quite the opposite is true.

Online zubenelgenubi

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IMHO the quiet boom choice was strange when they seemed to emphasize greener stuff. Boom or no boom supersonic flight causes a lot worse passenger miles per gallon figures than conventional speeds. Or passenger miles per kWhr too if one dreams of electric flight. I fail to see how trying to enable very expensive overland supersonic trips for a few HNWIs is greener act. Concorde was economic flop despite heavy subsidies and investment write-offs by France and UK.


I think those are all legitimate points (indeed, I have heard them made by a very smart top aeronautical scientist who works for one of those companies that puts engines on big jets).

And a legitimate related point is why did NASA choose this particular technology to advance at this time? Well, I don't know the specifics of the decision, but I am familiar with some of the background. Several years ago an independent study recommended that NASA start conducting more flight research (meaning actually flying aircraft).

http://www.nap.edu/catalog/13384/recapturing-nasas-aeronautics-flight-research-capabilities

Look at the findings and recommendations in the summary there. The options included environmentally responsive aviation, low boom supersonics, and hypersonics. Hypersonics is a bugaboo, with other issues. I think that low boom supersonics is something for which there is clear industry interest, although it is a niche. <snip>
Has anyone studied the potential sales of low-boom SST airline tickets?  Trans-oceanic international flight can be onerous, particularly trans-Pacific.  (No personal experience here, but summarizing some comments that I've heard from frequent-fliers.)

If the restrictions on supersonic land over flight are eased or removed due to low sonic boom, I could envision a (large?) niche market for international frequent fliers--people who might be willing to pay more (2x?) for faster transit.  Time is $$$.

That market is definitely larger, and going more places, than it was in the 70s.

Just a thought.
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Offline RonM

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Quieting sonic booms allowing overland travel would open up a large transcontinental business. Flights between the US east and west coasts are about five hours. Cutting that down would be useful for business.

Offline Bubbinski

I could also see military applications for quiet sonic booms.  A supersonic bomber or tanker/transport flying over "denied territory", on a strike mission or troop deployment for example.
I'll even excitedly look forward to "flags and footprints" and suborbital missions. Just fly...somewhere.

Offline Blackstar

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I could also see military applications for quiet sonic booms.  A supersonic bomber or tanker/transport flying over "denied territory", on a strike mission or troop deployment for example.

But it would still likely have a big radar signature.

Offline kevin-rf

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But it would still likely have a big radar signature.
Speed is the new stealth ;) Get in and out before the other side can shoot you down...

Also, who says the shape isn't stealth compatible.
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Offline Blackstar

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I did not watch the Monday press conference/announcement, but did they say anything about initiating future flight projects? Are they perhaps thinking about starting a new one each year for the next several years?

Offline kevin-rf

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I did not watch the Monday press conference/announcement, but did they say anything about initiating future flight projects? Are they perhaps thinking about starting a new one each year for the next several years?

Funny you should mention that, aviation week just had an interesting article about Lockheed's counter to the Blended Wing Body aircraft. Looks like an X competition in the 2020 time frame between Boeing's Blended Wing and Lockheed's Hybrid Wing Body.

You have to register with Av Week to read it, but it is not behind the paywall...
http://aviationweek.com/defense/next-lockheed-low-speed-hwb-airlifter-flight?NL=AW-05&Issue=AW-05_20160310_AW-05_389&sfvc4enews=42&cl=article_2&utm_rid=CPEN1000001746081&utm_campaign=5247&utm_medium=email&elq2=034e6511888f40a2b32ce2f9176c3f36

Here is the interesting quote at the end of the article as it relates to X planes:
Quote
Lockheed is pursuing the HWB concept with funding support from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) under its Revolutionary Configurations for Energy Efficiency program, which ends in 2017. The company will complete a study for AFRL of a manned HWB demonstrator this fall, he says. A commercialization study for NASA, looking at a freighter variant, will finish around the same time.

NASA has unveiled budget plans to fly a 50%-scale hybrid wing body demonstrator after 2020 as the second in a proposed series of large-scale X-planes. To date, the agency’s definition of HWB has been synonymous with Boeing’s Blended Wing Body configuration, but Lockheed plans to propose its HWB concept, and NASA says selection of the X-plane will be an open competition. “We do qualify to play in the HWB plans, and are working with NASA to make sure that we do,” says Hooker.

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Offline Zed_Noir

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I could also see military applications for quiet sonic booms.  A supersonic bomber or tanker/transport flying over "denied territory", on a strike mission or troop deployment for example.

But it would still likely have a big radar signature.

Yeah. So you are going to lit up the ground surveillance and target acquisition radars like beacons for the Anti-Radiation missiles of the strike package to home in on. Will be interesting.

However quiet supersonic strike aircraft will be useful to take out targets without radar capability. Since the target will have little or no warnings from picket observers listing for noise from approaching aircrafts.



Offline kevin-rf

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I could also see military applications for quiet sonic booms.  A supersonic bomber or tanker/transport flying over "denied territory", on a strike mission or troop deployment for example.

But it would still likely have a big radar signature.

Yeah. So you are going to lit up the ground surveillance and target acquisition radars like beacons for the Anti-Radiation missiles of the strike package to home in on. Will be interesting.

However quiet supersonic strike aircraft will be useful to take out targets without radar capability. Since the target will have little or no warnings from picket observers listing for noise from approaching aircrafts.
I will ask my question again, what says that the shape is not stealth compatible?

Part of the issue of networked ground defense systems is they talk to each other. Stealth doesn't mean you are invisible to radar, just you can get closer to the radar before detection. The goal is to get in and out before the other side has time to react. Stealth reduces the reaction time. That's why there is interest in other detection methods, visual, IR, sound. A quite supersonic stealth aircraft fits this bill. A sonic boom is a very sharp sound event that is easy to pull out of the background. Networked gun shot locator systems exist today to pin point the origin of gunshot noise. Police departments across the US are using them. Nothing keeps them from being integrated with an air defense queuing system allowing earlier detection and a longer reaction time. Stealth can be defeated if you know where to look.

I wonder if a non civilian reason to want to get around the sonic boom is to "help" stealth. While the F-22 and F-35 are stealthy, they are not quite and leave quite a boom... If they can track the boom, stealth vehicles are limited to subsonic speeds, giving the adversary a longer reaction time. But I digress, quite boom really sounds like a dual use technology.
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Offline kevin-rf

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Not the selected concept, but an article on aditional research NASA is doing with Boeing on truss braced wings (Bi-Planes!!!) for improved fuel economy.

http://aviationweek.com/space/truss-braced-wings-may-find-place-transonic-aircraft
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Offline Star One

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Skunk Works Refines Quiet Supersonic Design

Aviation Week & Space Technology
Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works is beginning a fast-paced year of preliminary design work on a low-boom demonstrator for NASA that the agency is increasingly optimistic will pave the way for environmentally acceptable supersonic business jets and airliners. The single-engine Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) aircraft is designed to test whether the shockwave signature of potential future Mach 1-plus vehicles would be acceptable to the public, clearing the way for supersonic flight ...

http://aviationweek.com/technology/skunk-works-refines-quiet-supersonic-design
« Last Edit: 06/14/2016 07:47 pm by Star One »

Offline Blackstar

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Offline Archibald

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What an ugly duck - I suppose this is the price to pay for no sonic boom. Forward pilot vision won't be good - although cameras may help. Or a submarine periscope. Oh, and when ejecting, beware not to be sucked into the air intake (like the vilain in Die Hard 2  )
And how many control surface that thing has ? canards, a tail, and a small tail ontop of the fin ?!
« Last Edit: 06/15/2016 09:40 am by Archibald »
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Offline Star One

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It explains in the article that the pilot may have to use something like an adapted F-35 helmet and also why it has so many control surfaces.

Offline Blackstar

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There are a number of different aspects to this project which I'd summarize as:

-technical feasibility
-regulation (how much noise is allowed)
-commercial interest and feasibility

NASA is tackling aspects of the first two, but they're complex. For instance, if they can prove the concept on this test vehicle, can that be scaled up to a larger vehicle that can carry passengers? And the regulation is a multi-pronged issue too, because the noise will vary based upon altitude, humidity, other atmospheric issues. I heard a NASA guy explain how he had been on the ground during a supersonic flyover by a military jet and never heard a sonic boom at all because the atmosphere had mitigated it. So there's a lot of factors that go into how the noise is detected and even defined.


Offline Robotbeat

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There are a number of different aspects to this project which I'd summarize as:

-technical feasibility
-regulation (how much noise is allowed)
-commercial interest and feasibility

NASA is tackling aspects of the first two, but they're complex. For instance, if they can prove the concept on this test vehicle, can that be scaled up to a larger vehicle that can carry passengers? And the regulation is a multi-pronged issue too, because the noise will vary based upon altitude, humidity, other atmospheric issues. I heard a NASA guy explain how he had been on the ground during a supersonic flyover by a military jet and never heard a sonic boom at all because the atmosphere had mitigated it. So there's a lot of factors that go into how the noise is detected and even defined.
Right. I think this is why they went with an actual piloted vehicle instead of a more subscale robotic one.

A crewed vehicle makes this a lot more /real/ to commercial interest and investors. It's also a camel nose under the tent of regulators, as you can start doing real cross-country demo flights.
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Offline kevin-rf

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Right. I think this is why they went with an actual piloted vehicle instead of a more subscale robotic one.

A crewed vehicle makes this a lot more /real/ to commercial interest and investors. It's also a camel nose under the tent of regulators, as you can start doing real cross-country demo flights.

They have already done subscale camel noses on the F-5 and F-15. Time to go larger.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Right. I think this is why they went with an actual piloted vehicle instead of a more subscale robotic one.

A crewed vehicle makes this a lot more /real/ to commercial interest and investors. It's also a camel nose under the tent of regulators, as you can start doing real cross-country demo flights.

They have already done subscale camel noses on the F-5 and F-15. Time to go larger.
That's right. This is a full vehicle capable of shaping the whole boom, not just half of it.
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Offline gosnold

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