Can NASA's X-plane resurrect supersonic passenger air travel?

Sean Reid
April 5, 2018

NASA announced they're awarding a contract to Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company to finish the design and build a supersonic, manned, X-plane, the Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator.

NASA said it would conduct its own tests on aircraft, which will fly at approximately 940 miles per hour at a height of 55,000 feet, upon Lockheed's completion of the plane.

NASA and Lockheed Martin are taking concrete steps toward the creation of jets that travel faster than the speed of sound but are "about as loud as a auto door closing".


NASA wants to bring supersonic travel back to commercial aviation, and it's turning to Lockheed Martin to help us get there.

Nasa is looking to foster technology that can overcome noise restrictions on supersonic flight, which has been banned overland for commercial planes since 1973.

NASA and Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works are teaming up to create the Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator, an experimental aircraft that aims to usher in the era of commercial supersonic flight. "We're thrilled to continue working with @NASAaero to make supersonic commercial travel a reality!" Lockheed Martin (LMAC) has been awarded a cost-plus-incentive-fee contract valued at $247.5 million, noted a release by the space agency.


Jaiwon Shin is in charge of NASA's aeronautical research mission.

NASA will still have to get through quite a bit of red tape now preventing supersonic flights from taking place over land. It'll pass that information along to regulators in the U.S. and overseas to help shape rules governing supersonic flights over land. "Our long tradition of solving the technical barriers of supersonic flight to benefit everyone continues". The X-Plane will be 94 feet long, and fly at 1.4 Mach at 51,000 feet, Coen said.

But passengers will not be able to board the supersonic jet just yet. "This X-plane is an important action better to that fantastic future".


Once it has passed all the requirements set, the X-plane will be flown over select cities and data will be collected from communities and responses taken from everyday people about the flight. The company must first show it is possible to fly a quiet supersonic aircraft. The Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator is created to send those shock waves away from each other, which Lockheed Martin says produces a sound about as loud as a auto door being closed.

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