Is Commercial Hypersonic Flight Worth Funding?

by JACOB PADILLA

Staff Writer

 

The last use of hypersonic flight was around 1967. The speed was mach 5.7, 5.7 times the speed of sound. This set a record for top flight speed that still stands today. The flight time between New York and Los Angeles takes “The same 4.5 hour flight as it did 30 years ago” (Messier). According to Livescience writer Douglass Messier, the field of aviation has remained fairly stagnant over the past 30 years or so.

 

Recently, however, there have been breakthroughs in the field of aerospace. The issue with this, is that NASA will need sufficient and continuous funding from the government in order to continue working on these advancements.

 

A possibility that can occur with the funding of this aerospace program is the beginning of hypersonic flight in commercial airplanes. In a world that is so reliant on things moving quickly, this would greatly increase the efficiency of air travel. Hypersonic flight is not used commercially, as a result of the creation of sonic booms that disturb people on the ground. The advancements in aerospace, however, are finding ways to greatly reduce the magnitude of these sonic booms, and make it more friendly to the population on the ground.

 

Currently, hypersonic flight is banned for the disturbances the sonic booms produce; however, there is a solution that can soon be implemented. NASA is looking to change this by giving a contract to Lockheed Martin, who has an experimental design for aircrafts to significantly reduce sonic booms

 

This state of being on the brink of a new technology also has the potential to call for another space race. Bedke believes that, “It is inevitable that hypersonic technologies are going to happen. It is not inevitable that we will be the first country to do it first”. This, in itself, has the potential to influence the government into putting research and funding into this technology.

 

The idea of advancing in the fields of science has always been a plus for me, and I strongly believe in the progress of technology. The decision on whether or not we should fund the research for hypersonic commercial flight is an easy yes that poses many obvious advantages. The main advantage is the dramatic decrease in flight times around the world. With things moving faster than ever, flight times reducing would be a great aid in business and government meetings along with general public conveniences. It would be an achievement for the United States to achieve this mode of travel and pioneer hypersonic flights. It is a way of causing progress in the field of science which, to me, is always an acceptable priority. This is enough to make it viable to fund this program and begin the acceleration in hypersonic flight research.

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