NASA Contracts for Design of Quieter Supersonic Jet

"Developing, building, and flight testing a quiet supersonic X-plane is the next logical step in our path to enabling the industry's decision to open supersonic travel for the flying public," said Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator for NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission.

NASA announced it has awarded a contract to a team led by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company of Palmdale, Calif., for preliminary design of a quieter supersonic jet, a preliminary step toward restoring supersonic passenger air travel, the agency's administrator said Feb. 29. The so-called "low boom" flight demonstration aircraft will be first in a series of X-planes in NASA's New Aviation Horizons initiative set out in NASA's fy2017 budget.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced the award in Arlington, Va. "NASA is working hard to make flight greener, safer, and quieter – all while developing aircraft that travel faster and building an aviation system that operates more efficiently," he said. "To that end, it's worth noting that it's been almost 70 years since Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 as part of our predecessor agency's high-speed research. Now we're continuing that supersonic X-plane legacy with this preliminary design award for a quieter supersonic jet with an aim toward passenger flight."

Preliminary design work on what is called Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) will be done under a task order against the Basic and Applied Aerospace Research and Technology contract at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. NASA's Commercial Supersonic Technology Project asked industry teams to submit design concepts for a piloted test aircraft that can fly at supersonic speeds but cause a soft "thump" rather than the sonic boom currently associated with supersonic flight, according to NASA.

"Developing, building, and flight testing a quiet supersonic X-plane is the next logical step in our path to enabling the industry's decision to open supersonic travel for the flying public," said Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator for NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission.

Lockheed Martin will receive about $20 million over 17 months for QueSST preliminary design work. Its team includes subcontractors GE Aviation of Cincinnati and Tri Models Inc. of Huntington Beach, Calif.

For more information about NASA's aeronautics research, visit http://www.nasa.gov/aero.

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