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Kraft Nearly Doubles Wiener Fleet

Also, Raytheon fires high-powered laser from Apache helicopter; and NASA turns sonic boom into a thump.

NASA Lowers the Boom

NASA has finished the preliminary design review of its Quiet Supersonic Transport or QueSST aircraft design. Why is that important? Because it means that we're one step closer to making supersonic passenger jet travel over land a real possibility. 

According to Peter Coen, the commercial supersonic technology project manager, that means taking the 'boom' out of sonic boom, and making it more of a sonic thump.

QueSST is what they are calling the initial design stage of NASA’s Low Boom Flight Demonstration experimental airplane, otherwise known as an X-plane.

A scale model of the X-plane design has been tested in supersonic wind tunnels, now NASA wants to perform in-flight tests, so they're building a proof-of-concept prototype. The initial design was signed off by senior experts and engineers at NASA and Lockheed Martin. NASA partnered with lead contractor Lockheed Martin in February 2016 for the preliminary design.

The X-plane will be flown over communities to collect data necessary for regulators to enable supersonic flight over land in the United States and elsewhere in the world.

Now that the design review is done, NASA can start soliciting proposals to build the piloted, single-engine X-plane. Flight testing could begin as early as 2021.


Oscar Adds to Wiener Fleet

Kraft is nearly doubling its wiener fleet. This week, Kraft announced two new additions to the Oscar Mayer WienerFleet currently anchored by the traditional WienerMobile, as well as the WienerRover and WienerMini (just a lot of odd co-branding going on there).

A new WienerCycle has been added to the wheeled fleet, and the WienerDrone is set to take the sausage party to the sky and air drop one hot dog at a time. The quadcopter has a max flight time of 15 minutes when holding a single dog cargo (its max payload) with a range of one mile. Though the WienerDrone can stay up for nearly twenty minutes if it has already delivered its load. The pilot still mans the cockpit from the ground, and the company gave no indication as to when the drone may start autonomously delivering hot dogs. I am, however, interested in the targeting intelligence that the chopper would use when selecting recipients. 

The new WienerCycle is a three-wheeled moped with a sidecar that doubles as a hot dog warming station that fits up to six dogs, end-to-end. According to the company, the 8.5 HP moped gets 80 mpg. Essentially, it's a moped with a new paint job and a WienerRover tacked to the side of it. 

The new WienerFleet will debut in Weiner, Arkansas for the Fourth of July.


Raytheon Straps High-Powered Laser to Helicopter

This week, Raytheon fired a High Energy Laser (HEL) from a helicopter for the first time ever.

Working in collaboration with U.S. Special Operations Command, Raytheon strapped the laser system to an Apache AH-64 at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

During the demonstration, the laser engaged and fired on a target over a wide variety of flight regimes, altitudes and air speeds. According to the company, the laser performed "as expected."

The test proved that an attack using a High Energy Laser mounted to a helicopter was not only feasible, but the data collected during the test will help shape the design of future HEL systems. For example, researchers learned the impact of vibration, dust and rotor downwash on HEL beam control and steering. Downwash is the how the air changes underneath the rotors.

Now, Raytheon has already mounted lasers to ships to shoot down drones, and it's working with the Marines to  add it to combat vehicles. So next time you want to give us a demonstration, I say we go full on war games.

This is Engineering By Design with David Mantey. 

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