NASA unveils experimental aircraft, hopes to usher in new technology

05 April, 2018, 01:41 | Author: Natasha Holloway
  • 04_03_nasa_supersonic_jet

The Lockheed Martin Skunk Works X-plane design will cruise at 55,000 feet, Mach 1.4, and will generate a gentle, supersonic heartbeat instead of a sonic boom.

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

NASA signed a contract with Lockheed Martin to design the plane in 2016 and now it's ready to proceed with construction of supersonic jet.

The chief engineer at NASA Langley in Hampton, Jay Brandon, said when airplanes fly at a supersonic speed they make sonic booms. This contract will have Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company of Palmdale, California work with a $247.5 million Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator contract which will remain in effect through December of 2021.

"Lockheed will work on the Low-Boom Flight Demonstration, also known as the X-Plane, through the end of 2021". The last commercial supersonic aircraft was the Concorde, which operated from 1976 to 2003.

The plane's configuration will be based on a preliminary design by Lockheed Martin, published a year ago.

Despite Lowe's concern, NASA said its confidence in the X-plane's design was "buoyed" by recent research using wind tunnel testing, advanced computer simulations and flight testing.

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The partners are seeking to foster technology that can overcome noise restrictions on supersonic flight, which has been banned overland for civil aircraft since 1973. That data will then be turned over to USA and global regulators to be considered when making new rules on sound for supersonic flights over land. "Our long tradition of solving the technical barriers of supersonic flight to benefit everyone continues", said Shin.

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Gulfstream, a unit of General Dynamics Corp, has said it won't attempt to build a supersonic aircraft until it is cleared to fly open-throttle over land and sea.

The almost quarter-billion-dollar contract calls for the single-jet plane, capable of cruising at 940 miles per hour, to be delivered to NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California by the end of 2021.

NASA's goal is to not produce a sonic boom at all, but something that sounds more like a soft thud.

After receiving the plane from Lockheed Martin in late 2021, NASA plans to conduct a series of flights over certain USA cities to get community feedback on the sound, according to The Times.

But passengers will not be able to board the supersonic jet just yet. 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.

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