NASA and Lockheed Martin are Building Supersonic Commercial Airplane

Lockheed Martin has received $247.5 million from NASA in order to design and produce an airplane for supersonic commercial air travel, both the space agency and the U.S. biggest defense contractor have announced on Tuesday.

The contract requires Lockheed Martin to finish the construction of the Low-Boom Flight Demonstration, also known as the X-Plane, before the end of 2021.

“It is super exciting to be back designing and flying X-planes at this scale,” NASA associate administrator for the aeronautics research mission directorate Jaiwon Shin said in a statement. “Our long tradition of solving the technical barriers of supersonic flight to benefit everyone continues.”

After Lockheed completes the plane NASA said it would conduct its own tests on the aircraft before it’s put to commercial use.

The X-plane is going to fly at approximately 940 miles per hour at a height of 55,000 feet.

The space agency also said that the aircraft will fly over specific cities in the United States in 2022 to analyze how the public reacts to the flights.

“We’re honored to continue our partnership with NASA to enable a new generation of supersonic travel,” Peter Iosifidis, the program manager of Lockheed Martin Skunk Works’ Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator, said in a statement. “We look forward to applying the extensive work completed under QueSST to the design, build and flight test of the X-plane, providing NASA with a demonstrator to make supersonic commercial travel possible for passengers around the globe.”

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

The only supersonic commercial aircraft made by humanity is the Concorde which was a joint project between Air France and British Airways, but the plane was retired after low passenger numbers following the 25 July 2000 crash, the slump in air travel following the September 11 attacks, and rising maintenance costs.


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