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NASA is testing a “quiet” supersonic jet that could cut flight times in half

660mph

The speed limit on commercial air travel is 660 mph, the rate at which a plane 30,000 feet in the air breaks the sound barrier and makes a sonic boom.

Published   |  Photo by Courtesy Lockheed Martin
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NASA announced it will accept bids to build a supersonic jet. The speed limit has been in place since 1973, when the US government banned supersonic travel.

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NASA and Lockheed Martin developed a plane model using fluid dynamics that changes the paths of shockwaves caused by supersonic travel to keep them from forming an “N” shape, which creates a sonic boom.

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Researchers successfully tested a smaller model in a wind tunnel in June, and say the jet’s increased speeds will allow planes to fly twice as fast, which could revolutionize commercial air travel.

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Sonic booms aren’t just loud—they can damage structures on the ground and disturb animals. But the new planes will create a sonic “hum” no louder than an air conditioner.

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