SD on SSTs [Supersonic Transport]

Now that the Concorde is gone, what is the status on SST? Is anyone seriously looking into making another Concorde. I would guess it is pretty outdated technology.

Also is it possible to do the Asian to Pacific (e.g. LA to Narita) that are more profitable. I understand that the Concorde couldn’t fly that far.

I tried to do a search in hopes of bumping a thread so if this has been discussed please post the link to that thread here.

I think the next step beyond SSTs has to be suborbital craft, that can boost themselves outside of the upper atmosphere in an elliptical path that takes them down to Earth in a long glidepath right towards the intended target… ah, destination.

Yes, that is how ICBMs work. Hopefully, we’ll be able to de-weaponize the concept enough to make it palatable to the upper-class business traveler. That would involve trading solid fuel for liquid, and, indeed, dropping the whole idea of a missile in favor of something that isn’t an aircraft but can still take off and then land safely multiple times without needing to throw parts of itself away each time. Also, a vertical launch will not be acceptable. Brief freefall might be acceptable, but only if it is controlled and the hosts offer Dramamine the same way they offer pretzels now.

Anyway, SSTs in the mold of the Concorde are, for all I can see, obsolete.

NASA’s been doing research in cojunction with the Russians. There was also an announcement not too long ago that NASA’s figured out how to minimize the sonic boom of an aircraft. One of the problems with the Concorde was that it couldn’t fly supersonic over land since the booms are considered noise pollution. (And having experienced a couple of sonic booms, I gotta say that were one to live in the flight path of a plane like the Concorde, hearing the booms on a daily basis would get really old, really quick.)

Yeah, but NASA is always doing research on high speed aircraft, it’s their job. But it’s only research, not a development program for an actual new aircraft.

Boeing went pretty far in designing the Sonic Cruiser. It’s not a supersonic airliner but it was to be 15 to 20% faster than existing airliners. IIRC, they decided it’s not a marketable product and halted development. It seems that airline passengers are mostly interested in lower cost, not higher speeds.

For a few years in the late 80’s - early 90s there was a joint NASA / US industry program called “HSCT” or High Speed Civil Transport. Google on that term plus either “Boeing” or “NASA” for lots of relevant tidbits.

The program died in the mid 90s as I recall due to the combo of too costly to operate plus the soinc boom problem.

As Tuckerfan says, NASA is now working on reducing the sonic boom, ideally to impercetibility on the ground. They’re making pretty good progress. That doesn’t solve the economics, but it gets the overall project a lot closer to do-ability. For more info, Google on “Shaped Sonic Boom Demonstration” or “SSBD”.

Edited title for clarity.

General Questions Moderator

p.s. Here’s a neat site dedicated to the Concorde:

There have been plenty of abortive attempts to design a next-generation SST. All of them have failed either for technical reasons, or economic reasons. It’s very expensive to fly that fast. It takes gobs of energy. If you stay in the atmosphere, you have tons of drag (the Concorde heated up quite dramatically from friction - all that energy to heat it up came from the fuel on the aircraft). If you leave the atmosphere, you need the energy to get up that high and get down again, plus the technology is not easy.

And here’s the real rub as far as people alive today are concerned - the development time for an all-new jet aircraft is incredibly long - sometimes measured in decades. If someone came up with a solid engineering design for an SST today, and some company decided to fully fund it, it would probably still be 20 years before it flew. And since no one is even close to the point where they can start construction of a commercial craft, the odds are that we won’t get a chance to ride another SST in our lifetimes (unless you’re like 18 now - for those of us around 40 or older, the clock’s ticking)

Hardly 20 years, more like 5. The Boeing 7E7 is still a very preliminary design, but is scheduled to enter service in 2008 if it goes, for instance.

The economics of an airliner-sized SST still aren’t there and may never be, but that may not be true for a bizjet. Several proposals for those are around, but the bizjet market is as soft as the rest of the industry right now.