With the low-boom flights, NASA intends to gather data on how effective the quiet supersonic technology is in terms of public acceptance by flying over a handful of U.S. cities, which have yet to be selected. The X-plane will cruise at 55,000 feet at a speed of about 940 miles per hour (1,513 km/h) and create a sound about as loud as a vehicle door closing-75 Perceived Level decibel (PLdB)-instead of a sonic boom.
NASA is hoping that this X-plane will help establish an acceptable commercial supersonic noise standard to overturn current regulations banning commercial supersonic travel over land.
NASA and Lockheed Martin have joined forces in a bid to bring commercial supersonic air travel back to our skies. The X-Plane's lineage, will be created to make it less noisy, running at supersonic speeds and allowing travel over inhabited areas.
Lockheed Martin will build the aircraft for $247.5 million.
At a news conference Tuesday morning, NASA said that this first X-Plane is a data-collecting experiment expected to take flight in 2021.More news: MILITARY TO BORDER: Trump to DEPLOY US TROOPS to Protect Southern Border
Commercial supersonic air travel ended with Concorde in 2003. 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".
NASA will still have to get through quite a bit of red tape now preventing supersonic flights from taking place over land.
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. It was these regulations which severely hampered Concorde's use in the 1970s and 1980s; with no possibility to fly at supersonic speeds over the United States, the aircraft could not serve routes to the West Coast. "Our long tradition of solving the technical barriers of supersonic flight to benefit everyone continues", said Shin.
Shin added that the LBFD will fly over select United States cities starting in mid-2022 and NASA will "ask the people living and working in those communities to tell us what they heard, if anything".
A conceptual graphic of what the NASA X-Plane prototype might look like. This plane needs to cruise at an altitude of 55,000 feet (commercial jets cruise between 33,000 and 42,000 feet) and reach a speed of over 1,512 kmph (commercial jets cruise between 878 and 926 kmph). The sound it generates, NASA says, should be at 75 perceived-level decibels, or "about as loud as a vehicle door closing".