The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on April 3, 2018 announced its plan of creating a manned supersonic aircraft with no ear-shattering sonic boom. The space agency would be granting a $247.5 million contract to Lockheed Martin, an American aerospace and defense group, to design and build the new plane. The company would be fully responsible for completing the design and fabrication of the experimental aircraft.
1. The experimental aircraft is expected to be handed over to NASA in 2021. Once NASA accepts the aircraft from Lockheed Martin, the agency will perform additional flight tests to prove that the quiet supersonic technology works as designed.
2. The jet will test design principles that are intended to soften the sonic boom.
3. The tests will also aim to ensure that the aircraft’s performance is robust and that it is safe to operate in the country.
4. The aircraft, known as X-plane, is expected to cruise at an elevation of more than 16,700 meters, at a speed of more than 1,500 km per hour but not make a sonic boom.
5. Under NASA’s plan, beginning mid-2022, the space agency will fly the X-plane over select US cities and collect data about community responses to the flights.