Allow us to explain NASA's new supersonic X-Plane

NASA is developing something called an X-Plane that could potentially bring back supersonic speeds to the skies.

NASA is developing something called an X-Plane that could potentially bring back supersonic speeds to the skies. Not only is that super-fun alliteration, but it is also very exciting for travelers wishing to get from New York to Los Angeles in two hours. The X-Plane travels at about 940mph and should be able to break the sound barrier without the pesky sonic boom thing that us mere mortals on the ground can't stand. According to Wired, the sound will be more akin to "a car door closing" than a big ol' boom. 


How is NASA doing this? Well, they aren't. They're paying Lockheed Martin $245 million to turn their Low Boom Flight Demonstrator (catchy name!) into a supersonic plane. A key difference between this and a commercial plane is the fact that the Low Boom (for short) flies at 55,000ft in altitude, a full 4 miles higher than commercial aircraft. Which makes sense, as the technology, sadly, is mostly for science, as the Low Boom is only 96ft long and only holds one person. It could be 10 years until this technology hits us regular folk. 

It might be hard to for our younger readers to imagine, but back in the sepia-toned 1980s when I was growing up we had these magical planes called Concordes that went 1,354mph—nearly 400mph faster than the X-Plane. The Concorde ceased production in 2003 due to "increasing maintenance costs" (and a high-profile crash outside of Paris in 2000). 

No word on whether they'll fly this supersonic over Seattle, as that's about the only chance the city has of getting the Supersonics back

Related Articles
Playlists
Keep reading Show less

Five foods that increase your psychological well-being

These five main food groups are important for your brain's health and likely to boost the production of feel-good chemicals.

Mind & Brain

We all know eating “healthy” food is good for our physical health and can decrease our risk of developing diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease. What is not as well known is that eating healthy food is also good for our mental health and can decrease our risk of depression and anxiety.

Keep reading Show less

For the 99%, the lines are getting blurry

Infographics show the classes and anxieties in the supposedly classless U.S. economy.

What is the middle class now, anyway? (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs

For those of us who follow politics, we’re used to commentators referring to the President’s low approval rating as a surprise given the U.S.'s “booming” economy. This seeming disconnect, however, should really prompt us to reconsider the measurements by which we assess the health of an economy. With a robust U.S. stock market and GDP and low unemployment figures, it’s easy to see why some think all is well. But looking at real U.S. wages, which have remained stagnant—and have, thus, in effect gone down given rising costs from inflation—a very different picture emerges. For the 1%, the economy is booming. For the rest of us, it’s hard to even know where we stand. A recent study by Porch (a home-improvement company) of blue-collar vs. white-collar workers shows how traditional categories are becoming less distinct—the study references "new-collar" workers, who require technical certifications but not college degrees. And a set of recent infographics from CreditLoan capturing the thoughts of America’s middle class as defined by the Pew Research Center shows how confused we are.

Keep reading Show less