Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT) has won a nearly 250-million-dollar contract with NASA to build a plane which is expected to be capable of supersonic speed without creating the traditional sonic boom.
According to CNBC, this NASA contract is valued at $247.5 million with cost, and will allow the defense contractor’s secretive Skunk Works division to continue the development of Lockheed Martin’s Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) aircraft.
"We look forward to applying the extensive work completed under QueSST to the design, build and flight test of the X-plane, providing NASA with a demonstrator to make supersonic commercial travel possible for passengers around the globe," program manager Peter Losifidis said in a statement.
Lockheed Martin has agreed to develop an experimental plane which will cruise 55,000 feet and reach speeds of about 940 mph. Additionally, NASA expects the new aircraft to create a sound of less than half the noise level — or more akin to the sound of a closing car door.
Current regulations ban commercial supersonic aircraft from operating over land, but Lockheed Martin and NASA will be trying to overturn the regulations through noise reduction. The new experimental plane is designed to return supersonic passenger air travel to routes over land.
The X-plane will be built at Lockheed Martin in Palmdale, California. Lockheed Martin will have a prototype for NASA to test fly by the end of 2021, under the low-boom flight demonstration contract.