NASA is known for developing and launching spacecraft that have a significant environmental impact. However, the space agency is fully on board with the net-zero movement. NASA supports the White House's Aviation Climate Action Plan. It is helping fund several aviation projects that aim to reduce the aviation industry’s damage to the environment.
NASA’s Sustainable Flight Demonstrator Program
NASA focuses on technologies for single-aisle aircraft, which are the powerhouses of many airline fleets and account for nearly half of global aviation emissions. NASA's Sustainable Flight Demonstrator (SFD) project aims to reduce carbon emissions
and keep the US competitive in the design of single-aisle commercial airliners, which are in high demand.
"Since its creation, NASA has worked with industry to develop and implement innovative aeronautics technology and has shared it with the world," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. "Now, with this ambitious new project, we're again joining with US industry to usher in a new era of cutting-edge improvements that will make the global aviation industry cleaner, quieter, and more sustainable."
NASA Wants to Reduce the Environmental Impact of Commercial Aircraft
The program’s goal is to build, test, and fly a large-scale demonstrator. NASA hopes to find a business partner for a Funded Space Act Agreement with its Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, by the beginning of 2023.
The agreement would draw on private-industry knowledge and experience, with an awardee developing a suggested technical plan and committing considerable cash to the project. Under this agreement, NASA would not purchase an aircraft or any other hardware for its missions. The mission of NASA is to develop new and innovative technologies and capabilities.
NASA will collect data on the ground and in the air. Agency and industry teams can use it to test the airframe configuration and related technologies.
Moving Away From Space
NASA's technologies are typically cutting-edge. However, as with many high-end items, the benefits and applications frequently filter down to the masses. NASA's specialized technology and research frequently has civil aviation applications. It's interesting to see how NASA seems to be moving away from space and going after planes that fly closer to Earth.