Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
NASA Space Science

NASA Wants To Get Supersonic With New Passenger Jet (networkworld.com) 144

coondoggie writes: NASA wants to put a supersonic passenger jet back in the sky that promises to a soft thump or supersonic heartbeat as the agency called it - rather than the disruptive boom currently associated with such high-speed flight. The 'low-boom' aircraft known as Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) will be built by a team led by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. It will cost $20 million to develop baseline aircraft requirements and a preliminary aircraft design.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

NASA Wants To Get Supersonic With New Passenger Jet

Comments Filter:
  • More pork for Lockheed Martin.
    • by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Monday February 29, 2016 @10:58PM (#51612447)

      More pork for Lockheed Martin.

      Obvious pork is most definitely obvious. After spending $20 million, NASA gets... a pile of paper. For $20 million, not one sheet of metal will be bent, not one rivet will be hammered, not one seam will be welded. And why is NASA spending this $20 million? Because it might not work. Or maybe nobody will want one.

      After 70 years of this bullshit, we're suffering far more than we realize. Because of contracts like this, big business is now convinced of its own infallibility, and Republicans are convinced of the ineptitude of government. This is not the capitalism they've been selling us all these decades. This is ridiculously socialized risk. If we were pursuing actual capitalism, Lockheed would have done a market analysis, possibly discovered that there's a profitable niche going unfilled, and attempted to fill it by designing and building an aircraft. With their own goddamn money.

      Instead, Lockheed did a market analysis, possibly discovered there's a profitable niche, and hedged their bets by shoving their risk up our collective asses. So now it's all upside for Lockheed. They can't lose. If it turns out that designing planes on paper is still a stupid idea (F-35, we're looking at you), and the pile of paper NASA receives can't be used to build a plane anybody wants, it's "government" that failed. "NASA Failure!" "NASA Boondoggle!" "NASA's Plane Can't Fly!" The headlines write themselves.

      And so the perception that government is incompetent is reinforced, and Lockheed Martin's stock doesn't take a hit, because hey, they delivered a pile of paper. That's what the contract specified. US businesses are never wrong, US businesses never make mistakes, especially not big expensive multi-million dollar mistakes. No, only governments do that.

      It's insidious. It's wrong. Every contract like it should be opposed by every American.

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        F-35 is really the Space Shuttle replay on steroids. The Navy want a Harrier, the Army want a Warthog and the Air Force want something fast. Just like the Space Shuttle filling the role of two different launch vehicles and needing to be strapped onto the side of another rocket (it must have required the work of multiple geniuses to fly at all) we have a thing meant to be a lot of other things, mostly so one company can own a market.
        So it's got nothing to do with "designing planes on paper" - that's what e
        • The Navy don't want a Harrier, thats the Marine Corp - the Navy want the F-35C. The Army don't want anything, because they can't operate it.

          • by dbIII ( 701233 )
            Last I looked the Marines were in the Navy and also the Army were asked what they wanted which added more compromise to the design.
            Perhaps you should think before jumping on posts to nitpick over trivia and getting it wrong? An addition of information is useful, irrelevant distracting noise just looks like playing some pointless mass debate game.
            • Uh, the Marine Corp are *not* part of the US Navy, no sir-ee - they both fall under the Department of the Navy, but they are both entirely separate forces with their own separate commanders and their own separate budgets.

              And no, the Army had utterly no say at all in the F-35 design - they provide no budgetary support to the program either.

              How about you actually do some research on the topics before you try to argue your points, it stops you looking stupid.

              • by dbIII ( 701233 )
                As stupid as irrelevant nitpicking over an analogy? The topic is waaaay back over there Mr "run by the Navy but not part of the Navy". If you let go of the analogy and start running now you may catch up with the topic.
              • I should add - not only arguing about an analogy but about one I've shown is irrelevant.
                The F-35 has problems due to excessive compromise which is nowhere near the issue here with the supersonic transport design.
      • For your $20M Lockheed Martin will discover and develop a VP-level revolving-door job opening for an experienced NASA contract liaison with a proven lack of ethics.
  • that promises to a soft thump or supersonic heartbeat as the agency called it

    That one flew over our editors' heads.

  • they already have their planes thank you very much.
  • I don't understand why a superjet for rich people is something that should eat a single cent of NASA's budget. If it makes sense, let the private sector build it. There is science that needs doing. Lay off with this vanity shit.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      You don't think the Aeronautics Administration should work on the science of aeronautics? Interesting.

    • I don't understand why a superjet for rich people is something that should eat a single cent of NASA's budget.

      In ten years, SpaceX will have accomplished everything NASA has planned for the next forty. They need a Plan B.

      $20 for a buildable design is either entirely impossible or fantastically efficient.

      • The only NASA plans that I know of for the next 40 years are the James Webb telescope and landing a person on an asteroid. I'm super pumped SpaceX did those!

    • It's a stepping stone. The long-term hope is for hypersonic transports which reduce the energy cost by "flying" above the atmosphere (sub-orbital ballistic trajectory) for a good portion of the trip. But to do that, you have to go through the supersonic regime.

      And aerospace has always been heavily subsidized by the government [wikipedia.org]. The physics in these high-speed / high-altitude / high-temperature environments is frequently not well understood. It makes little sense for every aerospace company out there t
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      JAXA is already doing test flights of its low noise supersonic aircraft. It looks like the technology has reached the stage where a new supersonic passenger aircraft could be viable, and Japan wants to be at the forefront of that technology. The US seems to have realized the same thing and got its aeronautical R&D body, NASA, to look into it. $20m for what could be a new market, one which Airbus will be late to, seems like a good deal.

  • What's the market? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by msauve ( 701917 ) on Monday February 29, 2016 @09:39PM (#51612165)
    ...and what sort of fuel economy will it get?

    Boeing failed with the SST, due to anticipated fuel costs not meeting market needs. Similarly with the Concorde, which couldn't operate profitably.

    Sure, there are some rich folk who would pay for short flight times, but the mass market is price conscious. The problem with supersonic flight is not sonic booms, but efficiency.

    Finally, why is NASA wasting taxpayer money designing passenger aircraft for the civilian market?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Concorde operated profitably for quite some time. The problem was, and still is, that only a few routes make commercial sense. So the SST a low-volume product, which combined with stupid high R&D costs (government footed the bill for Concorde) makes them a very risky proposition for the aircraft companies to develop, and for airlines to buy.

      Now, long haul, business heavy routes benefit the most, and if they do manage to make it quiet enough, a US transcontinental route starts to look really interesting.

      • by msauve ( 701917 )
        "Concorde operated profitably for quite some time...government footed the bill for Concorde..."

        So by "operated profitably," you mean it didn't operate profitably, it just pushed development costs onto European taxpayers.

        (Why is it that people think that anything paid for by government somehow comes without a cost?)
        • "
          So by "operated profitably," you mean it didn't operate profitably, it just pushed development costs onto European taxpayers.
           

          Which is what NASA is doing, now.

      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday February 29, 2016 @10:39PM (#51612387)

        Concorde operated profitably for quite some time.

        No. This is wrong. The Concorde never even came close to being profitable. It received $8000 per passenger-trip in subsidies from British and French taxpayers. But as the costs continued to climb, even that wasn't enough, and the politicians decided that there was actually a limit on how much they were willing to tax poor and middle class people in order to subsidize filthy rich Concorde passengers.

        • For those who don't grok just how atrocious Concorde's fuel economy was, just look at the right-most column of these charts [wikipedia.org] (liters per 100 km per seat). Concorde was 16.7 L/100 km per seat.
          • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

            The oldest aircraft in that list first flew in 1981, Concorde first flew in 1969... Aircraft are becoming more efficient over time, but development of supersonic passenger aircraft basically stopped in the early 70s.

        • by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardpriceNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday March 01, 2016 @06:18AM (#51613613)

          I would love for you to back that up - after privatisation, British Airways increased the ticket price, still filled the aircraft (until post 9/11) and made a profit doing so.

          From a WSJ article in 2003 [wsj.com]:

          "It was a tough decision to make emotionally but the right decision from a business perspective," said Rod Eddington, chief executive of British Airways.

          British Airways has never given figures on Concorde's profitability, but Mr. Eddington said it had been profitable until last year. During the past year, corporate travel on Concorde has declined "massively" as investment banks and other once-heavy users "have been writing Concorde out of their travel plans," he said.

          I have never seen any evidence of subsidisation of Concorde post-privatisation.

      • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

        What made it worse was that a lot of those routes fly over land, where people don't want to hear the sonic booms... Flights between europe and the middle east or asia, flights across the US.. You're basically left with routes from europe to east coast usa, routes from west coast usa to asia and routes to/from australia.
        Even the supersonic Concorde flights from europe has to remain sub sonic until they were several miles clear of the coast which added quite a bit of time to the flights.

    • Concorde couldn't operate profitably because it only had a few routes it could service due to the sonic boom restrictions. Some of the routes that it did originally serve had to be curtailed due to booms. Sonic booms most certainly IS the main problem keeping supersonic flight from gaining a foothold.

      NASA's job is to research Aeronautics for all purposes, especially civilian (since the DoD has plenty of funding for defense purposes). It's what the first A in NASA stands for. It's not a waste, it's probably

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Concorde couldn't operate profitably because it only had a few routes it could service due to the sonic boom restrictions. Some of the routes that it did originally serve had to be curtailed due to booms. Sonic booms most certainly IS the main problem keeping supersonic flight from gaining a foothold.

        Simple fix: Put all the people who have apoplectic fits over sonic booms but have no problems with thunder in rubber rooms. Thunder over pressure is much worse than Concorde sonic booms. I've lived in the mid west and, as a kid, under the flight paths of the SR-71 and B-70. Sonic booms have nothing on thunder.

        Anyway, Boeing was behind the "ban the bang" campaign when they failed at the SST, switched to the 747 (haul lots of people slowly) and wanted to undermine the Concorde.

      • Totally with you... too bad they contracted Lockheed and therefore nothing will come of it.

        $20 million for a new X-Prize would have been a much better idea. Chances of an X-Prize succeeding is about 50% where chances of a $20 million contract to Lockheed coming to anything other than asking for more money is 0%.

        How many failed projects due to gross mismanagement of finances will NASA suffer before realizing that giving Lockheed money is just never a good idea.
      • Concorde couldn't operate profitably because it only had a few routes it could service due to the sonic boom restrictions.

        Concorde couldn't operate profitably because it was a fuel hog - it used a turbojet which is much less efficient than a turbofan, and it required afterburners (which are hideously inefficient) to take off and to accelerate through the transonic regime. If it couldn't make money on the heavily traveled transatlantic route, it pretty much couldn't make money anywhere,

        • Turbojet is only less efficient than a turbofan when flying at low speeds. At Mach 2 there is not much difference because high bypass turbofans cannot achieve this kind of speed - in fact, the higher the bypass is, the lower is the maximum speed - and low bypass turbofans are basically leaky turbojets which use the bypass air stream more for cooling than for propulsion.

          Yes, the latest Tu-144 used by NASA had turbofans borrowed from the Tu-160 bomber, and they were much more efficient than the Olympus turboj

          • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

            And the TU-160s are still flying today, conducting bombing runs in Syria...

            • Probably just for pilot training - using Tu-160 for anything other than that and scaring Americans is far too expensive.

    • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )

      I think NASA should do some research on supersonic flight, i.e. a technology demonstrator. And if commercial markets want to take it from there, then they can go for it. If not then document what was done. Cmon you guys, it ain't that much money, we piss magnitudes more on other guvmint programs and yet everyone is conspicuously silent about those but when NASA programs are mentioned, then comes the usual "Think of the starving children!" Besides an airplan, there are other things such as control systems, m

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      If you can get past the sonic boom issue, then it's worth engine manufacturers looking into better engines for supersonic flight. Computer modelling has got a lot better since the 60s too, so a modern aircraft should be able to reduce drag significantly. Higher flight levels are also possible now, which helps thin the air.

    • by delt0r ( 999393 )
      No matter what you do, fuel cost will be higher. It is in the physics of going faster than sound. So it will always be less efficient per passenger mile.
  • by bugs2squash ( 1132591 ) on Monday February 29, 2016 @09:52PM (#51612213)
    The regulatory barriers had more to do with concorde being a foreign invention. No reason to block a US design.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The only thing any of us should "promise to a soft thump" are our heads hitting our desks after we all get aneurysms trying to figure out how the hell to parse these inane and poorly edited summaries.

  • Forget supersonic. New York to Tokyo at mach three is still a five hour flight. Suborbital is what I want.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Don't know if you've ever flown an equivalent distance but five hours is a mere hop by comparison, old boy. I imagine plenty of current first-class passengers, who arrive at exactly the same time feeling almost as lousy as cattle class, would be very interested in such a short flight. Let's face it, aviation has actually stagnated to a remarkable degree for the last fifty years.

      • Don't know if you've ever flown an equivalent distance but five hours is a mere hop by comparison, old boy. I imagine plenty of current first-class passengers, who arrive at exactly the same time feeling almost as lousy as cattle class, would be very interested in such a short flight. Let's face it, aviation has actually stagnated to a remarkable degree for the last fifty years.

        And why should you know? Yes, I have in fact flown NY to Tokyo on two separate occasions. And NY to India several times. And NY to Jo'berg. Also coast-to-coast on a regular basis, which is six hours all by itself on a non-stop flight.

        Mach three was hypothetical. The Concorde only flew at Mach two. So NY to Tokyo is really more like a ten hour flight. I'm even one of the fortunate ones who can sleep through a lot of the flight, but there's only so much one can sleep; at some point drugs – the ones I

        • Well jeeze, you don't have to go all *cough* ballistic!

          Of course you're right though. NASA is aeronautics and space after all. There's no reason not to combine the two for this. The flight takes less time than waiting for your bags and clearing customs, anywhere in the world. And the kids would find take off really exciting. One thing that's absolutely required is big windows

  • With the tendency for government drones to think up "cute" acronyms I think they missed a great opportunity in naming this one. In only a few seconds I came up with a better name, the Silent Over-Flight Testing Jet...

    the SOFT Jet.

    Not a good idea? Reply with one better, this could be fun.

  • by damn_registrars ( 1103043 ) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Monday February 29, 2016 @11:31PM (#51612569) Homepage Journal
    With all the fun description in the article I did not see any mention of how many people can fly on this. I was never able to fly on the Concorde, though I have walked through the one on display at the USS Intrepid. Walking through it one thing that I noticed immediately was how small it actually was; it took about as many passengers as a large EmbraerJet - and far fewer than a 747 or even 737.

    I don't want to try to oversimplify aeronautical engineering - and I am certainly not an aeronautical engineer myself - but in the current economy it certainly seems that something this expensive will only be viable if it can take a larger number of passengers than the Concorde could.
    • far fewer than a 747 or even 737

      You're wrong about the 737 - the 737-100, which was the 737 variant around when Concorde was designed, could seat 85-124 depending on configuration. Concorde was 92-128. The 747 was only unveiled the same year Concorde was, so again the Concorde design was contemporary with the 707 rather than the 747. The 707 had a slightly higher seating capacity, but it wasn't vastly more. In the 60s, it probably was anyone's guess how things would go - they'd only just left the prope
    • by delt0r ( 999393 )
      The first class sections and cabins in all the long haul flights I am in are full. The Business sections are also full. It is about 1300EUR one way to NZ for the cheap seats. The cabin is more than 10000EUR! and even business class is stupid expensive. You could change what you want for a far faster flight. It will be full.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    1-3 person pilotless, lying in 'coffin' wearing VR headset to eliminate claustrophobia. Use just 25-50g/s fuel (1-2MW heat) vs 7kg/s of concorde (300MW). Small power use=tiny boom noise.
    -Small ramjets just as efficient as big ramjets (unlike gas turbines), Small turboramjets have good efficiency as most of compression not done by turbomachinery. Use small gas turbine or more efficient IC engine to fly to altitude and dive to accelerate through sound barrier and ignite turbo-ramjet.
    -Enables supersonic fli

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Uh, comic books aren't actually engineering textbooks...

  • Won't happen (Score:2, Interesting)

    The instant that the name Lockheed showed up, we knew for a fact that this is simply a means of siphoning $20 million of US taxpayer money into the wallets of Lockheed Execs. Before they're through, they'll invest the $20 million into getting $100 million to finished the project "they underestimated the complexity of" and by that, it means that they couldn't figure out how to split $20 million between more than 2 crooks.

    Lockheed can't do anything for under a billion dollars. The breakdown is $50 million to
  • Last I'd heard, that project went belly up after their initial design work at the Lockheed Skunkworks.

    -jcr

Save the whales. Collect the whole set.

Working...