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NASA to test 'sonic boom-less' supersonic flights using fighter F/A-18

NASA is set to publicly demonstrate and test a flight manoeuvre that allows jets to travel faster than sound without generating the characteristic sonic boom.

Washington: NASA is set to publicly demonstrate and test a flight manoeuvre that allows jets to travel faster than sound without generating the characteristic sonic boom.


Supersonic flight over land was banned in the US because they generated characteristic loud sonic booms, that could sometimes damage buildings.

Using a repurposed fighter jet F/A-18, NASA showed that a diving manoeuvre can be used to generate quiet sonic thumps over a specific area.

Washington: NASA is set to publicly demonstrate and test a flight manoeuvre that allows jets to travel faster than sound without generating the characteristic sonic boom. Supersonic flight over land was banned in the US because they generated characteristic loud sonic booms, that could sometimes damage buildings. Using a repurposed fighter jet F/A-18, NASA showed that a diving manoeuvre can be used to generate quiet sonic thumps over a specific area. An initial test of the research methodology using the F/A-18 was conducted in 2011 with the help of the US military community that lives on base at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Researchers want to take the show on the road and try the same thing over a community that is not used to sonic booms regularly sounding on any given day the way the Edwards community is.

Using the F/A-18 and its ability to aim quiet sonic thumps at a specific area, teams from Armstrong, Langley Research Center in Virginia, and Johnson Space Center in Texas plan to conduct a series of data-gathering flights over Galveston, Texas, in November 2018.

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