NASA invests in supersonic passenger travel

Design to be developed for quieter supersonic jet
NASA has given a $20 million contract to Lockheed Martin to develop a design for a quieter supersonic passenger aircraft. Normally associated with annoying sonic booms, this plane would fly faster than the speed of sound with more of a soft thump.
The piloted test aircraft would use Quiet Supersonic Technology, or QueSST, to create a supersonic “heartbeat”. The project is the first in a series of NASA “X-planes”, as part of its New Aviation Horizons initiative.
The planes would make flights “greener, safer and quieter, all while developing aircraft that travel faster, and building an aviation system that operates more efficiently”, explains NASA administrator Charles Bolden.
Sonic booms come from shock waves as supersonic planes cut through the air. But the quieter “low boom” technology would “tune” a plane’s sonic boom through its design, which includes sleek fuselages, needle noses and wings that are highly swept.