NASA hopes the piloted plane, created to produce sonic booms barely audible from the ground, will provide crucial data that could benefit commercial supersonic passenger air travel.
Our cross-country flight times would be cut in half.
The experimental plane "will cruise at 55,000 feet (almost 17,000 meters) at a speed of about 940 miles per hour (1,513 kilometers per hour) and create a sound about as loud as a vehicle door closing, 75 Perceived Level decibels (PLdB), instead of a sonic boom".
The proposed design of X-Plane will be developed from a preliminary design from 2016.
Today's commercial airliners typically travel between 550 and 590 miles per hour, far short of the 767 mph speed of sound.
Prototype aims to replace supersonic boom with "gentle heartbeat".
NASA's mission, Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator will have the ability to fly supersonic but without any sonic booms.
Once NASA accepts the aircraft from its contractor in late 2021, the agency will perform additional flight tests to prove the quiet supersonic technology works as designed, aircraft performance is robust, and it's safe to operate in the country.
Conventional supersonic planes generate shock waves that collide with each other upon breaking the sound barrier, producing sonic booms.
"A lot of dreaming goes into developing something like this", Brandon said. Peter Coen, manager for the project at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia, said the key element in Lockheed Martin's design is "a brand-new shape".
The plane is set to take flight in 2021.
NASA plans to begin flying the aircraft over select US cities in mid-2022, and will collect data about community reaction to the noise level. NASA has not yet selected the cities that will be involved in those tests. "It will be representative of populations that will be exposed to these sounds".
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. But once NASA gets feedback from the public, this information can be used to not just advise plane manufacturers in the USA of how to build low-boom planes, but engineers all over the world.