NASA to test new supersonic X-Plane

NASA is moving forward with the construction of a new, piloted X-Plane.

It will be designed to fly faster than the speed of sound using the latest quiet supersonic technologies.

Its aim is to provide data that could enable commercial supersonic passenger air travel over land.

The $247-million contract to build and deliver the X-Plane, also known as the Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator, was awarded to Lockheed Martin.

Its configuration will be based on a preliminary design developed by Lockheed Martin under a contract awarded in 2016. The proposed aircraft will be 28 metres long with a wingspan of 9 metres.

The design research speed of the X-Plane at a cruising altitude of 55,000 feet is Mach 1.42, with the jet propelled by a single General Electric F414 engine (used by F/A-18E/F fighters).

Current regulations ban supersonic flight over land, but the plane will be tested over a handful of US cities.

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NASA to test new supersonic X-Plane