The space agency announced April 2 that it has awarded the aerospace company Lockheed Martin a $247.5 million contract to design and build a new X-Plane, known as the Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator (LBFD), which may soar silently over the U.S. by 2022.
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.
Jaiwon Shin is in charge of NASA's aeronautical research mission.
The Federal Aviation Administration has had a long-standing ban on supersonic flight by commercial aircraft over land.
X-Plane might fly at an elevation of more than 16,700 meters, at a speed of more than 1,500 km per hour, but create a sound about as loud as a auto door closing instead of a sonic boom, according to NASA.
After this, if NASA finds that its targets have been met, it will hand over the responses and data to the USA regulators and their worldwide counterparts to consider the X-plane and create new sound-based rules for supersonic flights over land.
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This week NASA awarded a almost quater-billion-dollar contract to Lockheed Martin this week to build a quiet supersonic experimental aircraft. Nasa awarded Lockheed Martin Skunk Works a contract in February 2016 for the preliminary design of the supersonic X-plane flight demonstrator. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company was selected for the Low-Boom Flight Demonstration contract, a cost-plus-incentive-fee contract valued at $247.5 million.
This new project is part of NASA's greater Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) effort, which aims to fly a supersonic aircraft that is quiet enough to convince legislators to overturn the current regulations.
" When the guideline is altered, the door will open to an air travel market all set to go into [a] brand-new supersonic market in our nation and worldwide", Shin stated. Beginning from 2022, it will collect data and opinion from inhabitants. The concept uses thin wings and a horizontal stabiliser rather than the delta wing shape of the X-plane and Concorde.
NASA is engaging in the project as three companies are working to develop new-generation supersonic civilian aircraft. It will fly at an altitude of 55,000 feet, cruising at 1,560 km/h. Prior to any supersonic airplanes will be enabled to fly over land, NASA and Lockheed Martin should show that it's possible to break the without the sonic boom.
Lockheed plans to conduct the first test flight in 2021. Lockheed in December also agreed to help Aerion build its supersonic jet.