NASA to conduct supersonic air research over Galveston

GALVESTON, Texas — Airplanes are pretty fast— but they could get even faster! NASA is preparing for a series of supersonic research flights over the Galveston area that could change the way we fly.

“What they are trying to do is here is find a way to travel at supersonic speeds without the loud sonic boom that can be a real public disturbance,” said Melanie Saunders, the acting deputy center director for NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

The experimental flights will help NASA collect data for future supersonic flights.

“The hope is that someday that will be in commercial aircraft and we can all fly faster and get to our destination faster without the loud sound and disturbing the peace and the public,” Saunders said.

Researchers say Galveston is the perfect location for their tests, but not just because the NASA Johnson Space Center is nearby.

"Galveston is an island community with a fairly dense population so our quiet supersonic dive maneuver creates a sound that represents the sound of a future commercial supersonic air craft, but it does it over a small area so having a fairly dense population is important. The island community is important because there's some loud sounds associated with this dive maneuver and we want to put them out over the water where our community won't hear them,” said Peter Coen, the project manager for NASA’s Commercial Supersonic Technology Program.

They've started getting the word out in Galveston. Tests begin in November. Five-hundred pre-selected people living or working in and around Galveston will then be surveyed about what they heard.

Keep your ears to the ground, and one day we might get our wheels up more quickly.