A multidisciplinary team of researchers has been selected by NASA to receive a five-year, $10 million grant as part of NASA Aeronautics’ University Leadership Initiative (ULI). The team will lead research into designing a supersonic transport aircraft that can modify its shape during flight under a range of conditions to meet noise and efficiency requirements for overland flight.
An Important Goal
Commercial supersonic flight represents a potentially large new market for aircraft manufacturers and operators worldwide. Global demand for air travel is growing and new supersonic products lead to more high-quality jobs in the U.S.
The environmental impact of supersonic flight continues to be a concern. The aerospace community believes that restrictions on overland sonic flight present a major barrier to supersonic aircraft adoption.
Our team will address the issue of adaptive overland supersonic boom mitigation. We will sense conditions between aircraft and the ground. We will make small, distributed adjustments to the shape of the aircraft to reduce boom for all flight conditions.
Selection of Research Partners: Texas A&M selected essential academic and industrial partners and potential NASA collaborators. Universities involved in Technical leadership, education & training are Texas A&M, Florida International, Utah State, Princeton and the University of Houston. Industrial partners are ATA Engineering, Inc., Ft. Wayne Metals and Boeing Research and Technology. These universities and industry partners were selected as a synergistic collaboration supporting NASA centers at Armstrong F.R.C, Langley Research Center and Glenn Research Center. Technology transfers from the universities to the industry partners and industry partners provide requirements on solutions and tools. Partner institutions were chosen on the basis of their technical capabilities to provide new opportunities for supporting NASA’s mission of extending inclusion to a wide range of researchers, be they students or faculty.
The Vision of University Leadership
The NASA ULI framework enables true technology transition of creative and novel concepts from the laboratory to impactful applications. Texas A&M faculty are internationally renowned in the areas of adaptive structures and high-speed flow, and provide natural leadership to this effort. Our academic team has the opportunity to work closely with established and new partners alike to simultaneously study the exciting issues of flow, noise, structures, materials and design, while also testing concepts that will truly benefit society. The period of performance and funding level of the ULI program allow our diverse team to address this technical challenge that would not be tractable given reduced resources.
Specialized educational opportunities enabled by ULI support include:
- Academic student exchange between partner institutions, including underrepresented minority students.
- Specialized new undergraduate and graduate courses in supersonics and adaptive structures.
- Targeted internships for participating students in NASA labs and with ULI industry partners.