What Machines Travel Faster Than the Speed of Sound?


Quick Answer

Many jet air crafts are capable of routinely breaking the sound barrier, as well as a handful of land vehicles, such as the Thrust Super Sonic Car. Almost all military combat planes are capable of supersonic flight, though supersonic passenger jets are less common. While it is also possible to break the sound barrier in a land vehicle, this has only been achieved a few times under closed conditions.

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Full Answer

According to Space.com, the first jet to break the sound barrier was the experimental Bell X-1, which completed its historic flight in 1947. However, many advances in airplane technology, such as better performing engines and more aerodynamic shapes, meant that subsequent generations of jets broke the sound barrier more easily. The SR-71 Blackbird, developed in the 1960s by Lockheed Martin, was eventually capable of travelling three times the speed of sound, the fastest of any manned vehicle. In general, there is not much interest in commercial supersonic travel. As of 2014, the Concorde, the last passenger jet that exceeded the speed of sound, was retired from service in 2003.

In 1997, researchers in Nevada succeeded in creating a land vehicle that could travel faster than the speed of sound. According to Guinness World Records, the vehicle test drive was completed exactly 50 years and one day after the flight of the Bell X-1.

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