The government included in its fiscal year 2019 budget proposal a full funding for NASA’s supersonic airplane that may soon take leisure travellers from one country to another in a blink of an eye. The funding came as scientists fear defunding of NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope that can explore distant planets.
In its justification for funding the supersonic airplane project, the White House budget proposal stated that the project “would open a new market for U.S. companies to build faster commercial airlines, creating jobs and cutting cross-country flight times in half.” A report from Space.com said the project is called the Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator (LBDF).
Weeks before the official budget proposal from the White House, various reports stated that NASA has conducted a series of flight tests of an airplane with foldable wings. The shapeshifting wings could fold from zero to 70 degrees, up and down, while flying. It was not immediately clear whether these foldable wings would be part of the planned supersonic jet. However, reports suggested that both projects are aiming for faster travel time among commercial flyers.
With the White House funding NASA’s supersonic airplane, the space agency would be able to begin test flights in 2021.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles Times reported that President Trump’s 2019 budget proposal cancelled allotments for a NASA space telescope designed to probe distant planets. The budget request had reportedly skipped funding for NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope to the disappointment of many scientists.
“It would be extraordinarily disappointing to see it canceled when a lot of work has gone into it already,” Bruce Macintosh, a Stanford University astrophysicist with the mission, was quoted as saying by the Los Angeles Times.
Interestingly, the telescope was planned for launch in the mid-2020’s, around the same time that flight tests for NASA’s supersonic airplane was now scheduled.