NASA Armstrong Accomplished Numerous Milestones in 2021

Joby eVOL acoustic test (Credit: NASA)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — This year marks 75 years of flight research at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California and 2021 adds to those achievements. 2021 continued to be challenging while working in a mostly virtual environment, but progress was surely made.

NASA’s next supersonic X-plane, the X-59, is taking shape for upcoming flights; NASA’s first all-electric X-plane, the X-57, completed ground testing to prepare for flights; several Earth science missions were completed around the globe; and many other goals were met to prepare NASA Armstrong for a successful 2022 and beyond.

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NASA’s X-59 Kicks Off 2022 in Texas for Ground Testing

NASA’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology aircraft (QueSST) is pictured here at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works in California, wrapped up in preparation for its move to Texas. The X-plane will undergo ground tests to ensure it can withstand the stresses of flight before returning to California for completion. (Credits: Lockheed Martin)

PALMDALE, Calif. (NASA PR) — 2021 saw significant milestones achieved in the assembly of NASA’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology aircraft (QueSST), and all eyes now look forward to a pivotal 2022. Following the X-plane’s temporary move from Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works in California to their facilities in Texas, the X-59 is set to start 2022 with critical ground testing, as progress continues toward NASA’s target of the aircraft’s first flight later this year.

While in Texas, ground testing of the X-59 will be done to ensure the aircraft can withstand the loads and stresses that typically occur during flight. The team will also calibrate and test the fuel systems before the X-59 makes the journey back to California for more tests and completion.

The X-59 is designed to reduce the loudness of the sonic boom, which occurs when an aircraft flies faster than the speed of sound, to a gentle, quiet sonic “thump”. The X-plane will demonstrate this in flights over communities around the U.S. starting in 2024, as NASA collects data that could open the future to commercial supersonic flights over land.

NASA Glenn Continued Research in 2021 for Space Exploration and Next-Gen Aeronautics

Credit: NASA

CLEVELAND, Ohio (NASA PR) — Looking deeper at the way fire behaves in space, Glenn researchers delivered the fifth in a series of NASA investigations in January. The Spacecraft Fire Safety Experiment-V (Saffire-V) successfully tested larger, more dynamic fires for over 26 hours inside Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft.

As NASA Glenn continued to manage the difficulties of the pandemic, scientific and technology research continued at a rapid clip this year with an eye toward the future.

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NASA’s 2021 Achievements Included Mars Landing, First Flight, Artemis, More

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2021, NASA completed its busiest year of development yet in low-Earth orbit, made history on Mars, continued to make progress on its Artemis plans for the Moon, tested new technologies for a supersonic aircraft, finalized launch preparations for the next-generation space telescope, and much more – all while safely operating during a pandemic and welcoming new leadership under the Biden-Harris Administration.

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Spire Global Included in NASA X-59 Quiet Supersonic Flight Community Testing Contract

NASA’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology X-plane, or QueSST, will fly over communities in the United States to demonstrate quiet supersonic. (Credits: Lockheed Martin)

VIENNA, Va. (Spire Global PR) – Spire Global, Inc. (NYSE: SPIR) (“the Company” or “Spire”), a leading provider of space-based data, analytics and space services, today announced that it has been included as a subcontractor in an award contract between Harris Miller Miller & Hanson Inc. (HMMH) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The award supports a national campaign of community overflight tests using NASA’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology research aircraft.

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JAXA Teams with NASA & Boeing to Validate Design of X-59 Low-boom Supersonic Demonstrator

Illustration of the completed X-59 QueSST landing on a runway. (Credits: Lockheed Martin)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has teamed up with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Boeing Company (Boeing) on joint research to validate the low sonic-boom design of X-59, NASA’s low boom flight demonstrator.

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NASA Aeronautics Budget Request Fact Sheet

NASA’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology X-plane, or QueSST, will fly over communities in the United States to demonstrate quiet supersonic. (Credits: Lockheed Martin)

NASA FACT SHEET
FY 2022 Budget Request
Aeronautics
($ Millions)

NASA Aeronautics conducts research to advance the safety, capacity, and efficiency of the air transportation system, reduce emissions, and sustain U.S. technological leadership in the aviation industry.

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NASA Perseveres Through Pandemic to Complete Successful 2020

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2020, NASA made significant progress on America’s Moon to Mars exploration strategy, met mission objectives for the Artemis program, achieved significant scientific advancements to benefit humanity, and returned human spaceflight capabilities to the United States, all while agency teams acted quickly to assist the national COVID-19 response.

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NASA Centers Collaborate to Advance Quiet Supersonic Technology During Pandemic

A NASA F/A-18 is towed to the apron at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California during sunrise over Rogers Dry Lake. The F/A-18 was used to test a transmitter for an air navigation system, called the Airborne Location Integrating Geospatial Navigation System, or ALIGNS. This system, designed to allow pilots to position their aircraft at precise distances to each other, will be critical for acoustic validation efforts of NASA’s next supersonic X-plane, the X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology. (Credits: NASA/Lauren Hughes)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — Two NASA centers on opposite sides of the countries are finding new ways to work together to support the agency’s mission to develop quiet supersonic technology, in spite of thousands of miles of distance and a global pandemic.

Using their available labs, Kennedy Space Center in Florida is building tools in collaboration with Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, which NASA will use in support of the X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology X-plane, or QueSST.

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Virgin Galactic Pivots High-speed Aircraft Program in a Crowded Field

Credit: Douglas Messier

Virgin Galactic’s record of delays and broken promises raises doubts about its ambitious supersonic aircraft project as company founder Richard Branson fights to save his struggling empire in the midst of a global pandemic.

Updated on 10/27/20 at 12:39 p.m. PDT to include spending comparison of Virgin Orbit to Rocket Lab.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Richard Branson’s dream of a suborbital Virgin Galactic vehicle zipping passengers between distant cities at hypersonic speeds above Mach 5 (6,174 km/h, 3,836 mph) is dead. At least for now.

In August, the space tourism company he founded pivoted to a slower supersonic Mach 3 (3,704 km/h, 2,302 mph) business jet. Virgin Galactic unveiled a mission concept for an aircraft that would carry 9-19 passengers at a cruising altitude of 60,000 ft (18,288 m).

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Supersonic & Hypersonic Civilian Transport Projects in Development

Overture supersonic passenger jet (Credit: Boom Supersonic)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Boom Supersonic’s recent rollout of its XB-1 supersonic demonstrator aircraft marked a milestone in an accelerating race to revive an era of civilian supersonic travel that ended when the Concorde jetliner was retired in 2003.

XB-1, aka Baby Boom, is set to begin flight tests next year from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The Mach 2.2 (2,717 km/h, 1,688 mph) vehicle is the precursor to Boom’s 55-seat Overture airliner, which is scheduled to begin carrying passengers in 2029.

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NASA Marks Continued Progress on X-59

NASA’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology X-plane, or QueSST, will fly over communities in the United States to demonstrate quiet supersonic. (Credits: Lockheed Martin)

by Matt Kamlet
NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center

PALMDALE, Calif. — Assembly of NASA’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology aircraft is continuing during 2020 and making good progress, despite challenges such as those imposed by the unexpected global pandemic.

NASA plans as early as 2024 to fly the X-59 over select communities on missions to gather information about how the public will react to the level of quiet supersonic flight noise the aircraft is designed to produce – if they hear anything at all.

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NASA Takes Delivery of GE Jet Engine for X-59 Supersonic Demonstrator

The F414-GE-100 engine, which will power NASA’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology X-plane (QueSST) in flight, is unboxed at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. The engine, one of two delivered by GE, is approximately 13 feet long, and will power X-59 on missions to gather information about how the public perceives the sounds of quieter supersonic flight. (Credits: NASA / Ken Ulbrich)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — Mark the big one-of-a-kind engine, designed and built just for NASA, as delivered.

Nearly 13 feet long, three feet in diameter, and packing 22,000 pounds of afterburner enhanced jet propulsion, the F414-GE-100 engine is now at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base in California.

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Microgravity Research in LEO Added to Top U.S. R&D Priorities for FY 2022

NASA Astronaut Bob Behnken works within the Light Microscopy Module facility on the Capillary Driven Microfluidics investigation from 1Drop Diagnostics, Inc. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Trump Administration has added microgravity research in Earth orbit as one of the nation’s key research and development (R&D) priorities for the 2022 fiscal year.

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NASA, Lockheed Martin Face Budget, Schedule Challenges with Low-Boom Supersonic Demonstrator

Illustration of the completed X-59 QueSST landing on a runway. (Credits: Lockheed Martin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s X-59 Low Boom Flight Demonstrator (LBFD) Project is progressing well toward its first flight test at the end of 2021 or early 2022 even though its cost has increased and schedule has slipped, according to a new audit by the space agency’s Office of Inspector General (IG). (Full Report)

The ambitious project will test designs and techniques for reducing the sonic booms caused supersonic aircraft. If successful, the research would allow a new generation of supersonic transports to fly over land rather than being confined to over-ocean travel as the now-retired Concorde airplane was it carried passengers from 1976 to 2003.

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