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NASA shows off new innovations at AirVenture

Posted at 9:59 PM, Jul 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-28 16:46:47-04

OSHKOSH (NBC 26) — NASA has been out in force at EAA AirVenture, showing off some projects they hope will revolutionize the world of flight.

Nils Larson is a test pilot for the X-59 jet. He says the plane is expected to cruise at altitudes of 55,000 feet, and travel at speeds around Mach 1.4—40% faster than the speed of sound—while creating significantly less noise than other jets do when breaking the sound barrier.

“An F-18 [fighter jet] that’s going Mach 1.4 is gonna produce that big ‘boom boom’ that sounds like two claps of thunder," he explained. "Where the X-59 should sound like someone slamming a car door."

Although the plane is still in ground testing and hasn't flown yet, Larson says NASA plans to test the jet over densely populated areas to gauge just how disruptive the reduced noise will be for people on the ground.

Larson hopes it will be quite enough to convince regulators to allow supersonic travel over populated areas, which he says could one day make commercial flights a lot shorter.

“What we’re shooting for is being able to get you places twice as fast," Larson explained.

NASA is also currently working on phase two of the Artemis Program, which project Subsystem Manager Ian Johnston explains will "[put] men and women back on the ground, putting boots back on the surface of the moon," in late 2025 or early 2026.

Unlike the Apollo missions, Johnston says Artemis will bring people to the moon to stay, and could possibly open the door to explore even deeper into space.

“This time we’re gonna have a lunar outpost, think of it like a space station that’s going to be orbiting the moon," Johnston said. "You’ve heard people mentioning going to Mars and stuff, that ultimately is a long-term goal."

Benjamin Granby is currently studying to become an aerospace engineer at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He says he's "incredibly excited" about the mission, and got to see an Artemis rocket launch last fall. Granby says he thinks Artemis will inspire a whole new generation of space explorers.

“I was born a little too late for the space shuttle, and I kinda grew up in that time where we weren’t doing much [manned space exploration]…I feel like kids are gonna be really interested in seeing people back up and the moon and seeing people go back to space,” said Granby.

Granby says he hopes to work at NASA someday, and says he'll be watching eagerly and "hopefully be doing something to help" when Artemis reaches the moon.