While NASA is known traditionally as a space agency, it is making big strides in aviation, according to POLITICO Pro (subscription).
A shift toward aviation: While the aeronautics budget only makes up a small percentage of NASA’s total budget, it has grown steadily in recent years, with the fiscal request for 2022 jumping by 10% from last year. Over the next year, that increased investment could pay off with a number of test flights and new proposals for game-changing global transport solutions.
A three-prong focus: As NASA works to develop new experimental aircraft, they are guided by a desire to create planes that are faster than before; less environmentally harmful than current planes; and more cost effective to operate.
A pioneering impact: Part of what makes these investments important is that NASA’s achievements are often incorporated into other forms of American aviation—so successful tests of experimental planes could herald new advancements in commercial or freight aviation.
- “There’s so much that comes out of our aeronautics program that is incorporated into everyday aviation,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
Incoming: Several projects are on the horizon. With Lockheed Martin, NASA is developing the needle-nosed X-59 QueSST, which is capable of flying “supersonic over land and populated areas,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson told POLITICO Pro. An all-electric airplane is also in the works: the X-57 Maxwell is scheduled to take its maiden cruise next month. NASA is also incorporating the “Transonic Truss-Braced Wing,” a lightweight and ultra-thin wing designed by Boeing that maximizes fuel efficiency.