Published: Thu, April 05, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

NASA chooses Lockheed Martin to build and test supersonic aircraft

NASA chooses Lockheed Martin to build and test supersonic aircraft

The $247.5 million contract allows for the design, building and testing of a plane that would make its first test flight in 2021, Nasa said.

The shock waves of a conventional aircraft design merge as they expand away from the nose and tail of the aircraft, causing two loud bang sonic booms.

The X-plane will be built at Lockheed Martin in Palmdale, California.

Lockheed Martin will complete the design and fabrication of the 94-foot-long experimental aircraft which will cruise at 16,700 metres at a speed of about 1,500 km per hour. This will "produce a sound about as loud as a cars and truck door closing", NASA authorities stated in the news conference.

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According to Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator of NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, the plan is test these planes in 2022, requesting public opinion on the subject so that NASA will be able to determine just how bothersome the noise of their quieter planes might be to citizens on the ground below.

The agency expects to have gathered enough data to properly recommend overland supersonic regulations to the FAA by 2023 or 2024, John Carter, manager of NASA's low-boom flight demonstration project at the Armstrong Flight Research Center, said in an interview previous year.

The proposed design of X-Plane will be developed from a preliminary design from 2016.

Boom Technology, a Colorado start-up, is developing a supersonic passenger jet with 45 to 55 seats, and attracted a $10 million investment from Japan Airlines in December.

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Known as X-Plane, this aircraft will be a low-boom flight and will provide crucial data that could enable commercial supersonic passenger air travel over land.

X-Plane will have a single General Electric F414 engine, the powerplant used by F/A-18E/F fighters.

After this, if NASA finds that its targets have been met, it will hand over the responses and data to the United States regulators and their global counterparts to consider the X-plane and create new sound-based rules for supersonic flights over land. The testing is meant to be the first step toward changing worldwide regulations that prohibit supersonic flight over land, and enabling private manufacturers to move forward with the development of supersonic business jets.

The U.S. government has outlawed commercial aircraft from flying over land at supersonic speeds, which is anything over Mach 1 (768 MPH), since 1973.

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