NASA awards Lockheed Martin $250 million contract for the development of a quiet supersonic...


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Hopping on a plane is certainly one of the faster ways to travel the world but there's always room for improvement. This is a sentiment NASA seems to agree with if their latest announcement is anything to go by.

Today, the agency announced their decision to award a development contract to Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company (LMAC). The California-based company has been tasked with developing a "Low Boom Flight Demonstrator," (LBFD) an experimental aircraft that could achieve near-silent supersonic travel.

NASA's ultimate goal with the LBFD is to bring supersonic flight to consumer markets, allowing for quicker transit than ever before. As Engadget notes, such technology in a consumer plane could open the door to flights as fast as two hours between cities like New York and Los Angeles.

...the agency will fly the LBFD over select US cities, asking residents whether or not they heard anything after the fact.

LMAC will be working within a $247.5 million budget to develop the experimental aircraft. After receiving the finished aircraft sometime in 2021, NASA will conduct a series of test flights to ensure the technology is working as intended. Later, in mid-2022, the agency will fly the LBFD over select US cities, asking residents whether or not they heard anything after the fact.

As interesting as this technology sounds, LBFD technology likely won't be making its way to your local airport anytime soon. NASA will still have to get through quite a bit of red tape currently preventing supersonic flights from taking place over land.

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Many of us would probably be flying around on a much improved evolution or at least derivative of Concorde by now, if the USA hadn't made such a ridiculous petty fuss about it while it was in its most vulnerable inception phase.

Killed it commercially. Wider acceptance and half decent orders would have vastly reduced maintenance and construction costs. As a minimum.

Maybe enough that the interest would have existed so that further gradual improvements were financially justifiable. Sure, it was never going to commercially beat fuel efficient flying buses and cheap tickets for most routes but it could have at least survived and thrived in the meantime.

Throwaway thought for the day.
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There are already supersonic corridors across the continental united states - much like how there are already commercial flight corridors - and the Air Force uses them all the time. Commercial supersonic flight is banned over the continental United States because Boeing couldn't get their competitor to the Concord off the ground, so the lobbied to get congress to ban over-land supersonic flight.

Supersonic flight only makes sense economically for trans-continental and trans-oceanic flights; long-haul stuff. By locking the Concord out from North American over flights, it was locked out of most airports. The NYC-London-Paris route was all that was left that could make money.