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Separating the "supersonic" from the "boom" is one of the big priorities for the aeronautics side of NASA. In NASA's 2019 budget request, a "quiet supersonic" plane stands out, both for the challenge and the immediacy of the goal. NASA hopes to fly a test plane by 2021. But what would such a feat mean for the rest of us? Turns out, such a jet could make for very speedy travel, the quiet kind, for everyday destinations.
There was, once, a supersonic airliner, built by a British and French partnership, and operated primarily by British Airways and Air France. Called the Concorde, it could make the flight from New York to London in 3.5 hours, under half the time of a normal, subsonic airliner. And that flight path was great for supersonic travel, since the Atlantic Ocean between those destinations, like the deserts beneath NASA's X-1 test, is both vast and devoid of people.
Still, the plane had to fly near people to land at airports, and wherever it did, people roared back with complaints. Here’s how the New York Times described the sound of the Concorde in 1977: