The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced the awarding of a contract that will see the return of a Concorde-like aircraft to the world. Lockheed Martin are the lucky engineers that were given the $20 million order to design an aircraft that utilizes what is called Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST).
This would be the first "X-plane" produced for NASA's New Aviation Horizons initiative.
It forms part of NASA's Commercial Supersonic Technology Project that aims to create an aircraft that flies at supersonic speeds but doesn't produce sonic booms that are synonymous with supersonic aircraft. The issue the Concorde had was that it could only go supersonic once they were clear of any populated areas. NASA wants their supersonic plane to fly over populated areas and produce a 'low boom' that doesn't disrupt anyone below the aircraft. This is a strict ban that was introduced by the Federal Aviation Administration.
A NASA spokesperson speaking to The Guardian said, " The company [Lockheed Martin] will develop baseline aircraft requirements and a preliminary aircraft design, with specifications, and provide supporting documentation for concept formulation and planning."
NASA expects that a working flight test might take to the skies in 2020. Prepare for some UFO spotting claims on the internet around that time.
Focus on passenger flight
Are NASA wanting to get passengers on it and fly them around in supersonic speeds?
NASA administrator Charles Bolden says that they are indeed awarding the design contract to Lockheed Martin with, "an aim toward passenger flight."
British Airways and Air France retired the Concorde in 2003 after a slump in profitability, along with the crash of Air France Flight 4590 in 2000 that did not inspire confidence in the minds of eligible passengers.
Jaiwon Shin, an associate administrator for NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission said: “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."
Whilst the fact of shorter air time travel might be attractive, marketing it to passengers might be a hard task for the companies at work considering the history of supersonic passenger jets.
Check the video out for more information on how quiet supersonic air travel might be possible: