NASA taps Lockheed Martin for supersonic X-plane

Lockheed wins Nasa contract to build quiet supersonic jet

After receiving the finished aircraft sometime in 2021, NASA will conduct a series of test flights to ensure the technology is working as intended.

The plane will be 94-feet-long, smaller than today's medium-sized commercial aircraft, like the popular Boeing 737.It will typically cruise around speeds of 1.4 Mach, which is approximately 940 miles per hour when traveling at 55,000 feet, according to a NASA spokesperson.

NASA signed a contract with Lockheed Martin to design the plane in 2016 and now it's ready to proceed with construction of supersonic jet.

This week we're getting an idea of what it'll be like to travel at supersonic speeds thanks to NASA's newest initiative.

"We're honored to continue our partnership with NASA to enable a new generation of supersonic travel", said Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator program manager Peter Iosifidis of Lockheed Martin Skunk Works.

The first supersonic commercial airline Concorde that began service in 1976, built by a French-British coalition and flown by Air France and British Airways, was discontinued in 2003 in part because noise complaints limited its flights. Lockheed Martin (LMAC) has been awarded a cost-plus-incentive-fee contract valued at $247.5 million, noted a release by the space agency.

"It is super exciting to be back designing and flying X-planes at this scale", said Jaiwon Shin, NASA's associate administrator for aeronautics, in a press release.

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Supersonic flight over land is now restricted due to noise concerns, one of several factors that reduced Concorde's appeal to commercial airlines.

They hope to use this data to change the rule that prohibits civil supersonic flights over land.

The Federal Aviation Administration has had a long-standing ban on supersonic flight by commercial aircraft over land.

By mid-2022, NASA said it plans to "fly the X-plane over select USA cities and collect data about community responses to the flights".

The new jet is expected to take to the skies in 2021, Lockheed said on Tuesday.

Of course, NASA isn't alone in its quest to revive supersonic air travel.

The sound level these folks are going for is 75 Perceived Level decibel (PLdB). It was these regulations which severely hampered Concorde's use in the 1970s and 1980s; with no possibility to fly at supersonic speeds over the U.S., the aircraft could not serve routes to the West Coast.

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