The new aircraft of the lineage of NASA’s legendary X-planes will have the mission to cross the sound barrier without producing the sonic boom — the characteristic and noisy shock-wave that objects create when they cross the speed of sound — said the US space agency Tuesday.
The US space agency has signed a $ 247.5 million contract with Lockheed Martin to design, build and test the new aircraft, which could take off in 2021, the space agency said. If all goes according to plan, the plane should make the “noise of a closing car door” — about 75 decibels of perceived noise level — flying at 55,000 feet (about 16,800 meters) ) at a speed of 1,560 km / h, she added. By 2022, the agency intends to fly its new X-plane over a number of US cities to collect data.
In a video put forward by NASA, the model of the aircraft has an elongated cabin ending in a nose also lengthened. Very small wings appear in front of the cockpit while not exceeding the rest of the cabin and two very high angle delta wings to provide lift.
The supersonic commercial aviation, which has lived only a few decades and for a very small elite group of passengers, ended with the last flight of the Franco-British Concorde in 2003. An aircraft that can fly relatively silently at supersonic speeds could revolutionize airlift of passengers and cargo by flying over inhabited areas.
The budget signed by President Donald Trump provides funding for the project and could “open a new market for US companies to build faster commercial aircraft, create jobs and halve the duration of crossing the country one coast to another “.
For now, no equivalent passenger plane is being considered and if the project demonstrates that supersonic and “silent” flight is possible, the authorities regulating civil aviation will have to adapt.
NASA is not alone in wanting to put supersonic commercial flight up to date. Virgin Galactic and Spike Aerospace are also on the line.