Hush: Lockheed, NASA Team Up on Silent Supersonic Jet

NASA Hires Lockheed Martin to Build Quiet Supersonic X-Plane

While NASA is working to reduce the sonic boom, other companies are working on their own supersonic aircraft designs - all of which will still create sonic booms during flight.

The space agency has awarded Lockheed Martin Skunk Works a contract to design, build and flight test the Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator X-plane.

Lockheed Martin has agreed to develop an experimental plane which will cruise 55,000 feet and reach speeds of about 940 miles per hour.

The plane's design is meant to decrease the noise of a sonic boom, which occurs when an aircraft travels faster than the speed of sound.

Commercial supersonic flights over land could face grounding public opposition even if a NASA project for quieter sonic booms partially succeeds, a former Concorde pilot has said.

The work will be done at the Lockheed Martin facility in Palmdale, California and is worth $247.5 million.

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NASA first awarded Lockheed Martin Skunk Works a contract in 2016 for the preliminary design of the X-Plane.

The plane's configuration will be based on a preliminary design by Lockheed Martin, published a year ago. It'll pass that information along to regulators in the U.S. and overseas to help shape rules governing supersonic flights over land.

Shin included that the LBFD will fly over choose USA cities beginning in mid-2022 and NASA will "ask individuals living and operating in those neighborhoods to inform us exactly what they heard, if anything".

"Our long tradition of solving the technical barriers of supersonic flight to benefit everyone continues", Shin added. "This X-plane is a critical step closer to that exciting future". Then it will begin its main mission, flying at supersonic speeds above a variety of urban, suburban, and rural areas to test the response of people on the ground to the noise signature. It will also test the aircraft to make sure it has a low sonic boom - the main goal of this project.

The former pilot said he was unconvinced that the X-plane's primary sonic booms will be quieter than Concorde's troublesome secondary booms. 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 auto door closing.

The aircraft will be created to cruise at 55,000 feet (16.7km) altitude at 940mph (1512km/h).

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