NASA is investing in eco-friendly supersonic airplane travel | Singapore Informer

© Provided by Quartz The future of flight?

Unless you have access to a F-22 fighter jet, you probably haven’t been able to fly faster than the speed of sound since the last Concorde flight in 2003. NASA wants to change this. The agency said that it is spending over $6 million to fund research into cheaper and greener supersonic travel.

This isn’t NASA’s first attempt to bring back supersonic travel. The agency has been (literally) pushing the boundaries of flight for years. NASA’s predecessor was involved in building the first supersonic plane in 1946, and the agency has been working on concepts since 2006 with companies like Lockheed-Martin and Boeing that may one day lead to a new generation of planes that get you places very quickly.

The largest awards of this round of funding went to MIT and Wyle Laboratories, a research contractor in Virginia, to investigate the environmental impact of commercial supersonic flight and how turbulence affects sonic booms, respectively.

MIT’s study will be looking into updating the environmental impact models created for NASA in the ’80s and ’90s. While many modern fighter jets have the ability to fly faster than the speed of sound, the environmental impact is relatively small, because there just aren’t that many fighter jets in operation. It would be a different case if commercial jets were capable of supersonic flight. There are roughly 7,000 flights over the US alone at any given time, all burning fuel to stay up there. Supersonic flight burns more fuel—albeit for a shorter period of…

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