Tuesday, 18 September, 2018

NASA's new X-plane: The next sonic boom

NASA Inks $247.5 Million Deal With Lockheed Martin To Build Supersonic'X-Plane An illustration of NASA's X-plane
| 05 April, 2018, 01:43

NASA expects private business jets to be the first type of supersonic aircraft to have commercial success if the ban on overland flight is lifted.

NASA will partner with the Skunk Works team of Lockheed Martin to design, build and flight test the Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator (LBFD), or X-plane to solve one of the most persistent challenges of supersonic flight - the sonic boom.

This new contract between Lockheed Martin and NASA is looking to reignite the dream of supersonic commercial aircraft by overcoming the sonic boom. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company of Palmdale, Calif., won the Low-Boom Flight Demonstration contract, a cost-plus-incentive-fee contract valued at $247.5 million.

Those regulation changes, according to NASA, would allow commercial flights to bring faster-than-sound travel to passengers and cargo.

The proposed plane, based on a preliminary design developed by Lockheed Martin, will be 29 meters long with a wingspan of 9 meters and a fully-fueled take-off weight of 15,000 kilograms.

"It is super exciting to be back designing and flying X-planes at this scale", Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator for aeronautics at NASA, said, referencing the series of supersonic research planes produced by Bell Aircraft starting in the mid-1940s.

They're working to make a supersonic flight over land possible.


That data will be passed on to regulators as support for new rules on supersonic flight - which could in turn give the aerospace industry the green light to develop practical applications. The rest of the airplane is "off-the-shelf" technology, he said, and will require no new development.

The precise speed varies depending on conditions, but 940 miles per hour is well over 100 miles per hour faster than the sound barrier.

Listen closely: A quiet, supersonic jet capable of blasting through the sound barrier without emitting a sonic boom could pass over your home as soon as 2022.

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.

According to its plan, beginning in mid-2022, NASA will fly the X-plane over select USA cities and collect data about community responses to the flights.

The X plane's sound will be as light as that of a auto door closing. The sound it generates, NASA says, should be at 75 perceived-level decibels, or "about as loud as a vehicle door closing".

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