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Orion spacecraft on course to return to Earth on Dec 11

As soon as Orion splashes down, a team of divers, engineers, and technicians will depart the ship on small boats and arrive at the capsule…reports Asian Lite News

After a historic flyby just 128 km from the surface of the Moon, NASA’s Orion spacecraft is on course for its return to Earth on December 11.

The spacecraft made its second and final close approach to the Moon, just before its return powered flyby burn, passing about 128 kms above the lunar surface on Monday.

“Orion is heading home! Today the team achieved another momentous accomplishment, flying Orion just 128 kms from the surface of the Moon. The lunar flyby enabled the spacecraft to harness the Moon’s gravity and slingshot it back toward Earth for splashdown,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

“When Orion re-enters Earth’s atmosphere in just a few days, it will come back hotter and faster than ever before — the ultimate test before we put astronauts on board. Next up, re-entry,” he added.

As soon as Orion splashes down, a team of divers, engineers, and technicians will depart the ship on small boats and arrive at the capsule.

Once there, they will secure it and prepare to tow it into the back of the ship, known as the well deck.

The divers will attach a cable to pull the spacecraft into the ship, called the winch line, and up to four additional tending lines to attach points on the spacecraft. The winch will pull Orion into a specially designed cradle inside the ship’s well deck and the other lines will control the motion of the spacecraft.

“Last week, we completed our final rehearsal with the USS Portland, which will be our recovery ship for Artemis I,” said Melissa Jones, landing and recovery director, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

The uncrewed Orion spacecraft also surpassed the record set in 1970 by the crew on Apollo 13’s aborted mission to land on the Moon.

The spacecraft reached the farthest distance from Earth during the Artemis I mission — 268,563 miles (432,210 km) from our home planet.

The earlier record was set during the Apollo 13 mission at 248,655 miles (400,171 km) from Earth.

ALSO READ-Deal signed to create opportunities for Emiratis in space sector

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UAE President meets heads of international space agencies

Sheikh Mohamed also received the founders of emerging Emirati companies in the space and advanced technology sector…reports Asian Lite News

President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan affirmed that the UAE is continuing to consolidate its position in the space sector, adding that the UAE national cadres are capable of reaching the highest possible level in this sector, which, he said, is one of the vital spheres for securing sustainable development, due to the significant economic and scientific opportunities it creates.

The UAE president made the statements as he received at Qasr Al-Bahr Palace yesterday – in the presence of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai – the leaders of the international space agencies participating in the Abu Dhabi Space Dialogue, which concluded today.

Sheikh Mohamed added, “The UAE will continue to support the space sector and groom national cadres at the highest levels to enhance the state’s competitiveness in this sector, in collaboration with its partners from various parts of the world, for the common good of humanity at large.”

“We have confidence in the UAE people, and our bet on them is successful. They possess the will and ambition in the field of space exploration to constructively contribute with the peoples of the world to ensuring a better future for generations to come,” Sheikh Mohamed added.

Those he received included Christian Hauglie-Hanssen, the Director General at the Norwegian Space Agency (NOSA); Ricardo Conde, President of the Portuguese Space Agency; Dr. Hiroshi Yamakawe, President of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA); Serdar Hüseyin Yildirim, President of Turkish Space Agency (TUA); Dr. Robin Jess, Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research; Dr. Sang-Ryool Lee, President of Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI); and Hervé Dery, President and CEO of Thales Elena Space.

Sheikh Mohamed also received the founders of emerging Emirati companies in the space and advanced technology sector, whom His Highness urged to make more efforts to develop the UAE space sector and forge ahead on the path of success that has been achieved in a record time, in order to enhance the position of the UAE and its international presence in this vital field.

Present at the meeting were Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council; Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior; Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Adviser; as well as a number of Sheikhs and senior officials.

In attendance also were Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology and Chairperson of UAE Space Agency; Omran Sharaf, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for Advanced Science and Technology and Chairman of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS);Salem Al Qubaisi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency etc.

ALSO READ: UAE, Malaysia sign M-E’s first unconventional oil concession

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Science

Hubble captures unusual galaxy merger in ancient universe

The two galaxies were distorted by gravity and twisted into a colossal ring, leaving their cores nestled side by side, said NASA…reports Asian Lite News

The NASA Hubble Space Telescope has captured an unusual galaxy merger in the ancient universe.

The Arp-Madore catalog is a collection of particularly peculiar galaxies spread throughout the southern sky, and includes a collection of subtly interacting galaxies as well as more spectacular colliding galaxies.

“Arp-Madore 417-391”, which lies around 670 million light-years away in the constellation Eridanus in the southern celestial hemisphere, is one such galactic collision.

The two galaxies were distorted by gravity and twisted into a colossal ring, leaving their cores nestled side by side, said NASA.

Hubble used its Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) to capture this scene the instrument is optimised to hunt for galaxies and galaxy clusters in the ancient universe.

“Hubble’s ACS has been contributing to scientific discovery for 20 years, and throughout its lifetime it has been involved in everything from mapping the distribution of dark matter to studying the evolution of galaxy clusters,” NASA added.

This image comes from a selection of Hubble observations designed to create a list of intriguing targets for follow-up observations with the James Webb Space Telescope, as well as other ground-based telescopes.

Astronomers chose a list of previously unobserved galaxies for Hubble to inspect between other scheduled observations.

Over time, this lets astronomers build up a menagerie of interesting galaxies while using Hubble’s limited observing time as efficiently as possible, said NASA.

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ISRO conducts its 200th consecutive successful launch  

ISRO is launching this satellite to provide continuity to the services of Oceansat-2 spacecraft with enhanced payload specifications as well as in application areas…reports Asian Lite News

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Wednesday completed the 200th consecutive successful launch of the versatile RH200 sounding rocket from Thumba in Thiruvananthapuram. ISRO termed it a “historic moment”. It was witnessed by former President Ram Nath Kovind and ISRO chairman S Somanath, among others.

The successful flight of RH200 took off from the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS). “Indian sounding rockets are used as privileged tools for the scientific community for carrying out experiments on meteorology, astronomy and similar branches of space physics,” an ISRO statement said.

Campaigns such as Equatorial ElectroJet (EEJ), Leonid Meteor Shower (LMS), Indian Middle Atmosphere Programme (IMAP), Monsoon Experiment (MONEX), Middle Atmosphere Dynamics (MIDAS), and Sooryagrahan-2010 have been conducted using the sounding rocket platform for scientific exploration of the Earth’s atmosphere, it said.

The Rohini Sounding Rocket (RSR) series have been the forerunners for ISRO’s heavier and more complex launch vehicles, with a continued usage even today for atmospheric and meteorological studies, the national space agency headquartered here said. “The 200th consecutive successful flight stands testimony to the commitment of Indian rocket scientists towards unmatched reliability demonstrated over the years,” it was stated.

ISRO to launch Oceansat-3, 8 nano satellites tomorrow

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch Earth Observation Satellite – 06 (EOS-06) and eight nano satellites on November 26.

According to the space agency, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C54) will launch the satellites at 11.56 a.m. from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. The EOS-6 is a third-generation satellite in the Oceansat series of satellites.

ISRO is launching this satellite to provide continuity to the services of Oceansat-2 spacecraft with enhanced payload specifications as well as in application areas.

The eight nano satellites include: ISRO Nano Satellite-2 for Bhutan (INS-2B), Anand, Astrocast (four satellites), and two Thybolt satellites. The INS-2B spacecraft will have two payloads namely NanoMx and APRS-Digipeater.

While the NanoMx is a multi-spectral optical imaging payload developed by Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad, the APRS-Digipeater payload has been jointly developed by the Department of Information Technology and Telecom-Bhutan and the UR Rao Satellite Centre, Bengaluru.

The Anand nano satellite developed by Bengaluru-based space start-up, Pixxel, is a technology demonstrator to demonstrate the capabilities and commercial applications of miniaturised Earth-observation cameras for Earth observation using a microsatellite in Low Earth Orbit.

Astrocast, developed by Hyderabad-based Dhruva Space, is a 3U spacecraft. It is a technology demonstrator satellite for the Internet of Things (IoT).

The US-based Spaceflight has developed Thybolt which is a 0.5U spacecraft bus that includes a communication payload to enable rapid technology demonstration and constellation development for multiple users.

ISRO said that the PSLV-C54 will launch EOS-06 and the eight nano satellites into two different Sun-synchronous polar orbits .

“The primary satellite (EOS-06) will be separated in Orbit-1. Subsequently, a orbit change has been planned by using two orbit change thrusters introduced in the propulsion bay ring of the PSLV-C54. The passenger payloads will be separated in Orbit-2,” ISRO said.

ALSO READ-ISRO increases carrying capacity of LVM3 rocket

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India test fires intermediate-range ballistic missile Agni-3

The launch was carried out for a predetermined range and validated all operational parameters of the system, the official added…reports Asian Lite News

India on Wednesday carried out a successful training launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile, Agni-3, from the APJ Abdul Kalam Island off the coast of Odisha.

A Defence Ministry official said that the successful test was part of routine user training launches carried out under the aegis of the Strategic Forces Command. The launch was carried out for a predetermined range and validated all operational parameters of the system, the official added.

In another move, DRDO’s compendium on low intensity conflict (LIC) products was released jointly on Wednesday by Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla and Secretary DDR&D and Chairman DRDO, Samir V Kamat.

DRDO officials said that in line with the Aatmanirbhar Bharat campaign of the Government of India, the compendium consists of more than 100 technologies, systems and products developed by DRDO for LIC operations. It is a valuable repository of information for the central security forces.

The collaboration, institutionalised to develop technologies and systems for LIC operations, has helped DRDO develop many products and systems required for the central security forces during LIC operations. The collaboration has also helped in identifying futuristic requirements for LIC operations and defining the roadmap for their development, DRDO said.

ALSO READ-India, Uganda review entire spectrum of bilateral ties

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India News Science

ISRO all set to launch first-ever private rocket

It will carry a total of three payloads in space, including one from the foreign customers…reports Asian Lite News

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is all set to make history on Friday when it will launch the first-ever private rocket on Friday, setting a new milestone in the 75 years journey of independent India.

Union Science & Technology Minister Jitendra Singh said that this will be a major milestone in the journey of ISRO, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had unlocked the space sector in India two years ago for private participation.

He said that the non-government entity, startup Skyroot Aerospace Pvt Ltd (SAPL) has developed the Vikram-suborbital (VKS) rocket, which is a single stage spin stabilised solid propellant rocket with mass of approx 550 kg. He said, the rocket goes to the max altitude of 101 km and splashes into the sea and the overall duration of launch is 300 seconds only.

Skyroot was the first startup to sign a MoU with ISRO for launching its rockets. Apart from being the nation’s first private launch, it will also be the maiden mission of Skyroot Aerospace, named “Prarambh”. It will carry a total of three payloads in space, including one from the foreign customers.

The Minister said this it will provide a level playing field for cost-efficient satellite launch services by disrupting the entry barriers and will also help the startups to make spaceflights affordable and reliable.

Space reforms have unleashed innovative potentials of startups and within a short span of time, from a couple of space startups three-four years back, today the country has 102 star-ups working in cutting-edge areas of space debris management, nano-satellite, launch vehicle, ground systems, research etc, he said, adding that with the integration of R&D, academia and industry, it is safe to say that a ‘Space Revolution’ led by the ISRO along with the private sector and startups is on the horizon.

‘ISRO’s rocket launch and tracking fee is nominal’

The fee charged by the Indian space agency for the rocket launch and tracking services is nominal, said a top official of private rocket startup Skyroot Aerospace.

“The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) provides integration facility, launchpad, range communications and tracking support before and during our rocket launch,” Pawan Kumar Chandana, CEO and Co-Founder said.

“The fee is reasonable. However, we won’t be able to share contractual details as we are bound by a non-disclosure agreement with ISRO and IN-SPACe (Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre — the regulator for private sector space industry),” Chandana added.

Skyroot Aerospace’s rocket Vikram-S with three small satellites is scheduled for launch on November 18 at 11.30 a.m.

“Launch is likely on 18th as the weather is predicted to be ideal. Due to inclement weather, we got an updated launch window of November 15-19, 2022,” Chandana said.

According to him, the Vikram-S rocket is a scaled down version of Vikram-1 rocket. The former is a single stage rocket whereas the latter is a multi-stage vehicle.

“Almost all our systems flying in Vikram-S were designed in-house, except for few sensors which were imported,” Chandana said.

The rocket will be powered by a single stage to help test and validate the majority of the technologies in the Vikram series of rockets.

The company plans to have three rocket variants: Vikram I – payload or carrying capacity 480 kg to 500 km low inclination orbit (LIO); 290 kg to 500 km sun synchronous and polar orbit (SSPO); Vikram II – 595 kg to 500 km LIO, 400 kg to 500 km SSPO and Vikram III – 815 kg to 500 km LIO, 560 kg to 500 km SSPO.

Skyroot Aerospace’s rockets are named ‘Vikram’ as a tribute to the founder of the Indian Space programme and renowned scientist Dr Vikram Sarabhai.

Chandana said Vikram-1 is expected to fly during the third quarter of calendar year 2023.

ALSO READ-ISRO increases carrying capacity of LVM3 rocket

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India News Science

Agnikul Cosmos successfully test fires rocket engine

Queried about the payload to be carried, Ravichandran had said it will be a dummy payload…reports Asian Lite News

Rocket manufacturing startup, Agnikul Cosmos on Tuesday said that it successfully test fired a second stage semi-cryogenic engine.

According to Agnikul Cosmos, the single piece, fully 3D printed, second stage rocket engine powered by semi-cryogenic fuel Agnilet was test fired at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), part of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

The company’s co-founder and CEO, Srinath Ravichandran, earlier told that they are pushing hard to have the first test launch of their rocket Agnibaan before the end of 2022.

Queried about the payload to be carried, Ravichandran had said it will be a dummy payload.

Agnibaan is a two-stage rocket with 100 kg payload capacity to orbits around 700 km high (low Earth orbits) and enables plug-and-play configuration.

The company recently opened its first 3D printed rocket engine factory located at the IIT Madras Research Park.

The factory has been designed keeping in mind the ability to produce two rocket engines per week for its rocket Agnibaan.

When queried about plans to have the test launch sometime next month, S.R. Chakravarthy, Professor and Head, National Centre for Combustion Research and Development, IIT Madras and Advisor to Agnikul told IANS: “We have been working towards it all the while but nothing is fixed yet.”

The Agnikul and ISRO signed an MoU, enabling access to the former to ISRO facilities and expertise towards the development and testing of subsystems/systems of Space Launch Vehicles.

ALSO READ-Russia will quit International Space Station: Roscosmos

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Science World News

World to witness thrilling ‘Blood Moon’ spectacle

Moon will be seen 60 per cent covered in Nagpur, 66 per cent in Srinagar and in varying degrees in other cities, said Prof. Adur…reports Asian Lite News

Director, Akash Ganga Centre for Astronomy (AGCA) here.

“Tomorrow, the Earth’s looming shadow will cover the Moon and during this period it will appear a dark reddish colour, almost like a large drop of blood balanced in the sky… This phenomenon is called a ‘Blood Moon’ and it’s an exciting spectacle,” said Prof. Adur.

He urged the people to view it wherever possible, as this will be the last total lunar eclipse, and the next one (total lunar eclipse) due only after three years on September 7, 2025.

The Earth will come between the Sun and Moon and the blue planet’s monstrous shadow — from a staggering distance of 3.93 lakh kms — will shroud its small natural satellite, partially or fully, depending on the angle of alignment from where it is viewed, Prof. Adur explained.

The Sun is around 109 times bigger than Earth and over 148-million kms away, while the Earth is nearly four times larger than the Moon, with an average distance of 3,85 lakh kms separating them.

“In a total lunar eclipse, the Moon is entirely blanketed by the Earth’s darkest shadow, called the ‘umbra’, and at this time, the Moon appears a dark-reddish colour, or what is called the ‘Blood Moon’ phenomenon,” Prof. Adur said.

In scientific terms, it’s called the ‘Rayleigh Scattering’ as during a lunar eclipse the only sunlight that reaches the Moon passes through the Earth’s atmosphere, thus turning the Moon an apparent reddish colour.

This is the second celestial event since the last partial Solar Eclipse (October 25), and can be witnessed by people in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, parts of Asia, Russia, North and South Americas, Australia, North Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean regions.

Despite the scary myths or deep religious aspects associated with any eclipse (solar/lunar), Prof. Adur assured that there is absolutely no harm in viewing the unusual ‘Blood Moon’ on Tuesday with naked eyes or with binoculars which will enhance the reddish colour.

The northeastern parts of India like Kohima, Agartala, Guwahati and other regions in the world will witness it in totality on Tuesday, the final eclipse of 2022.

As the Moon will be below the horizon during the eclipse hours, most other parts of India will miss the exciting starting phases of both the partial and total eclipse, he said.

Kolkata, New Delhi, Chennai along with Mumbai, can witness only the partial phase, and in the country’s commercial capital barely 14 per cent of the Moon’s obscuration can be viewed at 18.03 hours in the setting sun.

However, the Moon will be seen 60 per cent covered in Nagpur, 66 per cent in Srinagar and in varying degrees in other cities, said Prof. Adur.

In case people miss the ‘Blood Moon’ on Tuesday, they can wait for October 28, 2023, when there will be another partial lunar eclipse that will be visible in some parts of the country, Prof. Adur smiled.

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India News Science

ISRO places 36 ‘OneWeb’ satellites into orbit

OneWeb Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said: “It is a historic day for the Indian space sector. It is a new chapter for India in the space sector.”…reports Venkatachari Jagannathan

In a historic maiden commercial flight, an Indian heavy-lift rocket GSLV MkIII – renamed for this mission as LVM3 M2, successfully placed 36 satellites of UK-based OneWeb into orbit.

With this, India has put one more rocket to compete in the global commercial satellite launch market.

The 43.5 metre tall and weighing 644 ton LVM3 M2 rocket, carrying 36 satellites weighing totally 5,796 kg or about 5.7 ton, blasted off from the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at 12.07 a.m.

With the thick orange flame at its tail, the rocket lit up the clear midnight sky, and growling it went up.

About 20 minutes into its flight, the LVM3 began slinging the satellites of Network Access Associated Ltd (OneWeb) into low earth orbit (LEO).

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman S.Somanath told reporters: “The satellite separation is a slow process. All the satellites got separated successfully. The rocket’s cryogenic engine was at its best.”

OneWeb Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said: “It is a historic day for the Indian space sector. It is a new chapter for India in the space sector.”

Mittal said OneWeb had put a request to ISRO for the launch of its satellites a few months back and the space agency accepted the challenge to carry out two launches of 36 satellites each.

Referring to OneWeb’s planned launch of its Gen2 satellites, Mittal said the company may need about 12-16 launches and ISRO will have a major role to play.

“There is a shortage of launch vehicles and ISRO now has a great opportunity,” Mittal added.

According to D.Radhakrishnan, CMD of NewSpace India Ltd (NSIL), ISRO’s commercial arm, the GSLV MkIII has made a remarkable entry into the commercial satellite launch market.

He also said that this is the beginning of many more business associations with OneWeb.

With the latest successful mission, ISRO has put into orbit a total of 381 foreign satellites.

Another set of 36 satellites from OneWeb is planned to be put into orbit in January 2023. The UK company has contracted with NewSpace India Ltd (NSIL) to pay over Rs 1,000 crore for both launches.

OneWeb is a joint venture between India Bharti Global and the UK government.

The satellite company plans to have a constellation of about 650 satellites in low earth orbit (LEO) to offer communication services.

According to ISRO, the OneWeb Constellation operates in an LEO Polar Orbit.

The LVM3 is a three-stage rocket with the first stage fired with liquid fuel, the two strap-on motors powered by solid fuel, the second by liquid fuel and the third is the cryogenic engine.

The ISRO’s heavy-lift rocket GSLV MkIII has a carrying capacity of 10 ton to the LEO and four-ton to the Geo Transfer Orbit (GTO).

Normally the GSLV rocket is used for launching India’s geostationary communication satellites. And hence it was named as GeoSynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). The GSLV MkIII refers to the third-generation rocket.

As the rocket that flew on Sunday morning was for orbiting the satellites in LEO, the ISRO has renamed GSLV MkIII as LVM3 (Launch Vehicle MkIII).

The rocket mission has several firsts for the Indian space sector. It is the first commercial launch of GSLV MkIII and for the first time, an Indian rocket will be ferrying a payload of about six tonnes.

Similarly, OneWeb is using an Indian rocket to put its satellites into orbit for the first time. Also, it is the first commercial launch of GSLV MkIII contracted by NewSpace India Ltd (NSIL), the commercial arm of ISRO, and for the first time, a renamed GSLV MkIII is being used for launching satellites in LEO.

OneWeb pays over Rs 1,000 cr

The UK-based Network Access Associated Ltd (OneWeb) will be paying over Rs 1,000 crore to the Indian space agency to launch its 72 satellites, said a top group official.

He also said OneWeb’s merger with French satellite company Eutelsat Communications is likely to be completed around April-May of 2023. OneWeb will be a 100 per cent subsidiary of Eutelsat Communications.

Speaking to reporters here, Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, OneWeb, said the company will be paying Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)/NewSpace India Ltd over Rs 1,000 crore for launching 72 satellites.

The first batch of 36 satellites will fly on ISRO’s rocket LVM3 at 12.07 a.m. on Sunday. OneWeb will also use ISRO’s another LVM3 rocket in January to launch 36 satellites.

OneWeb plans to have a constellation of 648 satellites in LEO to offer its broadband services across the world.

“Nearly 10 per cent of OneWeb’s satellites will be launched by ISRO,” said Shravin Mittal, Managing Director, Bharti Global.

Queried about the prospects of sourcing its Gen2 satellites from ISRO, Sunil Mittal said the discussions are on. OneWeb will look at India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) to orbit some of its satellites as replacements in space.

Queried about any changes in constellation configuration following the decision to merge OneWeb with Eutelsat Communications, Massimiliano Ladovaz, Chief Technology Officer, OneWeb, said there is no change in respect of Gen1 satellite constellation.

Ladovaz also said the request for quote (RFQ) for manufacturing of Gen2 satellites will be issued by the end of this year.

Officials of OneWeb and ISRO on Saturday held a meeting where the possibility of ISRO participating was also discussed.

According to Sunil Mittal, by the middle of next year, OneWeb will start offering its broadband service mainly focused on the business-to-business segment.

When asked about the competition, he said the market is big enough to have three or four satellite constellations.

Asked if three or four constellations with several hundreds of satellites orbiting in the space will increase the space debris, Ladovaz said OneWeb satellites are designed in such a manner that it would not become a debris.

ALSO READ-36 OneWeb satellites reach India for ISRO launch

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NASA set to break sound barrier again for future air travel

“Their responses will be shared with regulators who will then consider writing new rules to lift the ban,” said NASA…reports Asian Lite News

NASA aeronautical innovators are poised to break the sound barrier again, this time in a very different way that could make it possible for all of us to one day travel by air just as fast as any of the X-1 pilots who flew supersonic.

NASA’s X-59, the centerpiece of the agency’s Quesst mission, will enable commercial supersonic travel over land.

Lockheed Martin has designed, built and conducted initial flight tests with the aircraft and the first flight is targeted for 2023.

“That first supersonic flight was such a tremendous achievement, and now you look at how far we’ve come since then. What we’re doing now is the culmination of so much of their work,” said Catherine Bahm, an aeronautical engineer at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California.

Through Quesst, NASA plans to demonstrate the X-59 can fly faster than sound without generating the typically loud sonic booms that led to supersonic flight over land being banned in 1973.

The plan includes flying the X-59 over several communities to survey how people react to the quieter sonic “thump” it produces – if they hear anything at all.

“Their responses will be shared with regulators who will then consider writing new rules to lift the ban,” said NASA.

“And when that happens it will mark another historic milestone in flight, potentially opening a new era in air travel, where airline passengers might hop on a supersonic jet at breakfast time in Los Angeles to make a lunch-time reservation in New York City,” it added.

Seventy-five years ago, a sonic boom thundered for the first time over the high desert of California, when the thunder came from the Bell X-1 rocket plane flying faster than the speed of sound.

It was October 14, 1947, and the joint X-1 team of NACA, Air Force (newly formed that year), and Bell engineers and pilots had broken the sound barrier — an imaginary wall in the sky some said was impossible to penetrate.

“With the X-59 flying on the Quesst mission, I think wea’re ready to break the sound barrier once again,” said Peter Coen, NASA’s mission integration manager for Quesst.

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