Published: Sun, April 08, 2018
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NASA Awards Contract to Build 'X-Plane' for Supersonic Air Travel

NASA Awards Contract to Build 'X-Plane' for Supersonic Air Travel

"NASA's development of quiet supersonic flight technology needs support, interest and engagement from the community to ensure that the potential sound is acceptable to those on the ground", said Peter Coen, NASA's Commercial Supersonic Technology project manager, ahead of the August 2017 tests at Kennedy Space Center. The new experimental plane is created to return supersonic passenger air travel to routes over land.

As per the contract, LMAC will have to complete designing and also build an experimental jet called the X-plane.

Today, civilian supersonic flights over land are banned.

"This piloted X-Plane would be built specifically to fly technologies that reduce the loudness of a sonic boom to that of a gentle thump". The research indicates that the maximum speed of the aircraft will be Mach 1.5 or 1,593 km/h.

Lockheed's experimental plane will be created to mitigate the shock waves emanating from the nose, wings, engine and other protruding areas of the plane when the sound barrier is broken.

It's all about speed. But the boom created when the aircraft breaks the sound barrier is so loud that it can shatter windows and dislodge roof tiles, so supersonic flights are banned or restricted in many areas.


Sonic boom, the loud thunder when a plane exceeds 660 plus miles per hour, is a large concern for builders of such aircraft.

Jaiwon Shin is in charge of NASA's aeronautical research mission.

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.

NASA aeronautics engineers underscored that this plane isn't a prototype for a defense mission or a private jet - but an experimental plane meant to fly over American communities and see if it is quiet enough to be a real, usable technology. The concept uses thin wings and a horizontal stabiliser rather than the delta wing shape of the X-plane and Concorde. They vary from a deeper understanding of sonic booms to wing layout. It will be the length of an NBA basketball court, LiveScience's Brandon Specktor writes.

The era of commercial supersonic flights was from 1969 to 2003, Mark Ellwood reports for The Wall Street Journal. And the era ended after the supersonic Concorde suffered a tragic crash in 2000, BBC News reported. If the design is goer, the agency wants to design a passenger aircraft that could revitalize the demand for supersonic travel.

It is a real revolution in passenger and freight air transport.

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