NASA chooses Lockheed Martin to build and test supersonic aircraft

The Lockheed Martin Skunk Works’ X-plane design will cruise at 55,000 feet Mach 1.4 and will generate a gentle supersonic heartbeat instead of a sonic boom

Once NASA accepts the aircraft from its contractor in late 2021, the agency will perform additional flight tests to prove the quiet supersonic technology works as designed, aircraft performance is robust, and it's safe to operate in the country.

The contract NASA awarded Lockheed Martin Skunk Works this week was to design, build, and flight test this Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator X-plane.

NASA has awarded a contract for the design, building and testing of a supersonic aircraft that reduces a sonic boom to a gentle thump.

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.

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NASA is making supersonic air travel a reality.

Skunk Works will build the aircraft at its Palmdale, California-based facility in preparation for the plane's initial flight in 2021.

After Lockheed Martin finishes its work, including flight tests, NASA expects to begin flying the demonstrator aircraft over unspecified U.S. cities beginning in mid-2022, at which time it will collect data about "community responses" to the X-Plane's flights.

"It is super exciting to be back designing and flying X-planes at this scale", Jaiwon Shin, NASA's associate administrator for aeronautics, said in a statement. As it stands, current regulations based on aircraft speeds ban supersonic flights over land.

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The Concorde, the supersonic airliner that began service in 1976, was built by a French-British coalition and flown by Air France and British Airways until it was discontinued in 2003 - in part because noise complaints limited its flights.

The low-boom flight demonstrator research programme has two goals: to design and build the aircraft, which although large-scale would still be smaller than any aircraft that went into service; and to fly it over selected U.S. communities to gather data on human responses to the sonic thump. From 2022 to 2025, NASA says it hopes to launch the first community response test flights to see how the public responds.

Do not anticipate to board a supersonic traveler jet anytime quickly; Lockheed Martin's LBFD will not be constructed for transferring individuals. Officials say if the design ideas work in real life as well as on computers and paper, the loudest sound this plane would make when it breaks the sound barrier would the equivalent of a vehicle door closing.

At a cruising altitude of 16.7km, the X-plane could fly at Mach 1.42, or 1,753km/h.

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