Craft that can travel to huge speed without creating sonic boom
- Last month, Lockheed Martin and NASA
jointly revealed the X-59
experimental aircraft, which is expected to fly at 1.4
times the speed of sound (925mph) without generating an explosive sonic boom.
The sleek jet is expected to play an instrumental role in bringing back
supersonic commercial air travel. But what if I tell you that researchers are
working on a submarine that could travel more than three times faster than the X-59 jet?
Yes, you read that right, and it is possible to travel at those speeds
underwater, at least theoretically. Back in 2016, a team of researchers at Penn
State Applied Research Laboratory funded by the US Navy started the development
work on a revolutionary submarine that can attain supersonic speeds.
- Obviously, the biggest problem for vessels reaching high speeds both on the surface of water or below it is the huge amount of drag created while moving through it. But there’s a simple solution to overcome drag underwater – a bubble. The researchers are working on a technology called supercavitation that envelopes a submerged vessel inside an air bubble to mitigate drag. You’ll be surprised that the technology is not new. The Soviets developed it during the Cold War era for a torpedo named Shakval. The Soviet torpedo reached a speed of 370km/h (around 230mph), making it a lot faster than any other conventional torpedo.
- Interestingly, the researchers in the
US aren’t the only ones working on a supersonic submarine. According to the SCMP, scientists at
Harbin Institute of Technology’s Complex Flow and Heat Transfer Lab in China
started developmental work on a supersonic submarine, which also relies on the
same supercavitation technology. The researchers claimed that the radical
technology could cut down drag dramatically. In theory, the technology can help
the submarine hit supersonic speed underwater, or about 5,800km/h (~3600mph).
If developed, the supersonic submarine would cut down the journey time from New
York to London to just 50 minutes. Furthermore, the 5300-mile distance between
San Francisco and Tokyo will be covered in 90 minutes by the radical submarine.
- But don’t expect the supersonic submarine to become a reality anytime soon, as there are some major hurdles on the way. Conventional propellers will never be able to help propel a vessel to such speeds. It would need a powerful underwater engine, which still needs to be developed. Then there’s the problem of steering, as traditional rudders won’t work in a bubble and at those speeds. There are some other major challenges that might take a very long time to be solved.
- Magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) systems are being researched but are not in commercial use. One of the main problems is the relative efficiency compared to other forms of propulsion.
- What if? Reverse engineering of retrieved UFO’s has revealed that a reactor is positioned at the center of the upper level, with an antenna extending to the top, surrounded by three "gravity amplifiers". These connect to "gravity emitters" on the lower level, which can rotate 180 degrees to output a "gravity beam or anti-gravity wave" and that the craft would then travel "belly first" into this distortion field.