Saturday, August 15, 2015

Retro Saturday: Ticket Through the Sound Barrier

Click the arrow to watch the film. Video source: wdtvlive42 YouTube channel.

The first “A” in NASA stands for Aeronautics.

The agency was created in October 1958 by merging Defense Department civilian space programs with the existing National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. Created in 1915, NACA was seen by the Eisenhower administration and Congress as a template for how to upgrade U.S. space technology in response to the Soviet Sputnik launches.

This week's Retro Saturday is a 1966 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Science Reporter documentary titled, “Ticket Through the Sound Barrier.” It foresaw commonplace supersonic civilian aviation within the next decade.

Commercial supersonic transport ended when the British-French Concorde was retired in 2003. The sonic boom caused by an SST passing through the sound barrier led to laws restricting its use over land. According to a 2014 Air & Space magazine article, “Overland supersonic flight is banned in the United States and Europe, and if that can't be changed, a supersonic commercial airplane is an economic non-starter.”

Although the documentary is labelled “NASA Presents,” Science Reporter was a series produced by MIT in collaboration with the location public television station WGBH Boston.

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