Return of the SST?


Having lived through much of the advances in aviation and space transport over the past sixty years, I’m always amazed when a new cutting edge technology could revolutionize the way we move from point A to B. It’s been over a decade since the retirement of the Concorde, a supersonic transport that vastly shortened the travel time from London to New York but with a few drawbacks. Having lived in New York City, I remember vividly when one such SST landed at JFK Airport, marveling at its size, design and capabilities.

While both the Russian and English/French SST reduced the time it took to travel vast distances, its one principal drawback was the supersonic boom it created as it passed through the sound barrier, which would jar homes and even crack windows. The issue was so pronounced that SSTs were forced to reduce speed well out to sea to avoid the effect the sonic boom would cause to the general population. This reduced the time the aircraft could travel at high speed, making supersonic travel less advantageous while still remaining cost prohibitive.

According to today’s news, NASA has awarded Lockheed-Martin a contract that, if successful, can potentially reduce the bone-jarring noise created by supersonic travel to a barely noticeable “thump”, thereby making global travel at high rates of speed once again attainable. Its possible that the supposed SR-72, a.k.a Aurora, could benefit from this development, thereby making overflights over “hostile terrain” less invasive while still conforming to the Open Skies Policy Concept which calls for the liberalization of international air space around the world.

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