Published on : Apr 04, 2018
Supersonic travel for passengers are soon to become reality. At least, initiatives to develop jet engines that travel faster than the speed of sound have already begun under NASA aeronautics group. The research institute, notably, undertakes multi-disciplinary research for developing cutting-edge aeronautics technology. For the first time in decades, it has embarked on efforts to design and develop piloted X-plane, an experimental plane equipped with quieter supersonic technologies. To this end, on April 2, 2018, it has awarded a US$247.5Mn contract to Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, a major unit of Lockheed Martin, a prominent name in the U.S. defense and aerospace segment, and is also based in Palmdale, California.
NASA and Lockheed Martin Efforts to design Supersonic Took Shape Last Year
This is one the defining and concrete step toward designing jets that will not only travel faster than sound but would be quieter than previous technologies. The X-plane to be developed from scratch will be tentatively delivered to NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, California, by 2021 end. Under a previous contract, Lockheed has already begun a preliminary set of designs, specifically the preliminary design review (PDR), of its Quiet Supersonic Transport in July last year.
The key objective for NASA to go ahead with the design is to accumulate crucial data that will accelerate efforts to develop commercial supersonic jets for passenger to air travel over land.
Contract to build Experimental Plane to evaluate Public Acceptance of Supersonic Flights in U.S.
Lockheed will pioneer in a major part of engineering of the experimental plane and the craft is expected to gather speed up to 940 MPH at an altitude of 55,000 feet. One of the key constraints diluting the efforts to create low-sound supersonic jets has been the sonic boom, especially when they were made to fly over populated areas. Notably this has been the problem with the famed British-French supersonic passenger airliner Concorde, which discontinued operation after 2003.
NASA has tried hard to improve the aerodynamics of the flight. The new experimental jet will put to test many of its hypothesis. The experiment will also offer a tangible groundwork for NASA to test the public acceptance of supersonic flights in a few cities in the U.S.