NASA’s plans for a quiet supersonic jet, the QueSST, just became tangible: the agency and Lockheed Martin have started wind tunnel tests for the future X-plane. It’s a scale model at this stage, but it will be subjected to winds as high as Mach 1.6 (950MPH) to gauge both its aerodynamic performance as well as parts of its propulsion system. The tests should run until the middle of 2017.
Whether or not QueSST moves beyond these tests will depend on funding approval. If it does get the go ahead, though, the next step is making an honest-to-goodness aircraft poised to fly in 2020. That goal is still a long way off, but it now seems more achievable than it did a year ago.