U.S. aerospace and defence giant Lockheed Martin has won a $247.5 million Nasa contract to build an experimental supersonic jet created to hush the continuous boom emitted after aircraft break the sound barrier.
The X-plane will be about the length of an NBA basketball court, will fit a single pilot and will fly at about 940 miles per hour (1,510 km/h) at an altitude of 55,000 feet (16,800 meters).
NASA will have to prove that it is possible to break the sound barrier without the sonic boom before any supersonic planes are allowed to fly over land.
NASA and Lockheed Martin have joined forces in a bid to bring commercial supersonic air travel back to our skies. This contract will have Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company of Palmdale, California work with a $247.5 million Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator contract which will remain in effect through December of 2021. The last time civilian passengers traveled supersonic was with the Concorde program that lasted 27 years - between 1976 and 2003. Peter Coen, manager for the project at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia, said the key element in Lockheed Martin's design is "a brand-new shape".
Current regulations, which are based on aircraft speed, ban supersonic flight over land.
Information gleaned from the project could ultimately be used in the development of regulations to allow for overland supersonic flights, which are now illegal for all civilian aircraft in the U.S.
NASA will fly the aircraft by mid-2022 to gather and relay public feedback on the flights to USA and worldwide regulators in order to draft new supersonic flight rules.
NASA is partnering with Lockheed Martin to develop an experimental manned airplane capable of traveling faster than the speed of sound while staying relatively quiet.
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"Our long tradition of solving the technical barriers of supersonic flight to benefit everyone continues", Shin added.
If the X-plane passes the tests, the age of supersonic passenger and cargo flights might soon return.
Do not anticipate to board a supersonic traveler jet anytime quickly; Lockheed Martin's LBFD will not be constructed for transferring individuals.
As per the contract, LMAC will have to complete designing and also build an experimental jet called the X-plane. Lockheed's plane will travel at 1500km/h and produce around 75 perceived decibels at ground level.