Two NASA centers are collaborating to create quiet supersonic technology during the pandemic

NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California has been working on a project called “SCHAMROQ,” which involves creating tools and test techniques for the X-59 plane. The plane is hypothetically capable of producing very quiet sonic booms, but it can’t be tested until project SCHAMROQ makes progress. Unfortunately, the global pandemic has made this a monumental task.

The Armstrong Flight Research Center decided to reach out to Kennedy Space Center in Florida for assistance with project SCHAMROQ. Now, using the extra help and available labs, the two NASA centers are collaborating in creating the tools necessary for the project.

Matthew Moholt, deputy project manager for SCHAMROQ, said, “Their willingness and eagerness to help out a sister center is welcomed and appreciated. When you have another center willing to help out and do critical work that’s critical to your schedule, that’s really significant.”

The tools that are being created are a shock sensing probe, a schlieren photography technique, and special navigation software that will allow pilots to accurately fly at high speeds.

Once all of the tools are built and working, the next step will be to outfit them on a NASA F-15 research aircraft. From there, the specialized F-15 could act as a chase plane, following behind the X-59 as it breaks the sound barrier and recording the data.

An early design of the shock sensing probe integrated into the nose of a NASA F-15

Jeff Crisafulli, branch chief of testing and design at Kennedy Space Center, said, “This is a unique opportunity to help out our buddies at Armstrong by providing this fabrication service. It goes back to the ‘One NASA’ idea — we are ‘One NASA.’ This is a good example of pathfinding and opening up the door to some potential future work together.”


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