NASA just gave Lockheed Martin $20M to build a supersonic passenger jet

quiet supersonic passenger jet nasa x plane
NASA
NASA is spearheading an effort to design the next generation of supersonic commercial aircraft and has chosen a team at Lockheed Martin to help in the early stages of the project. The near-silent supersonic aircraft would be developed as an experimental X-plane under NASA’s New Aviation Horizons initiative, which was recently introduced in the fiscal year 2017 budget and is awaiting approval.

NASA contracted with Lockheed Martin, along with subcontractors from Ohio’s GE Aviation and California’s Tri Models Inc., to develop a concept design for the Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) project. The proposed technology would lower the noise of a supersonic plane from the current loud boom to a level akin to a soft thump. Lockheed is expected to produce a concept design with specifications, details on the formulation of the concept, and information on the planning that went into the design. As part of the project, NASA has awarded Lockheed Martin $20 million to be distributed over 17 months for the preliminary aircraft design.

Various X-Plane concepts
Various X-Plane concepts NASA / Lillian Gipson

This first phase of development involves planning only and will act as a building block for a future project. The final plans submitted by Lockheed will be subject to review by the community before they are used in the next phase of development. This second phase will see the detailed design, building, and testing of the aircraft proposed by Lockheed. This follow-up project will be awarded through a bid competition to be held in the future.

The supersonic jet is one of several projects proposed as part of NASA’s recently unveiled New Aviation Horizons initiative. The program will focus on developing innovative aerospace technology to reduce fuel consumption, decrease emissions, and limit the noise of commercial airplanes. “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,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. Besides a supersonic plane, NASA also will be working on novel aircraft prototypes that move the industry beyond the conventional tube and wing-shaped aircraft. If adopted in the future, these technology advances potentially could save the airline industry $255 billion over the next 25 years.

Emerging Tech

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a super-speedy pulsar

A super-speedy pulsar has been spotted dashing across the sky, discovered using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and the Very Large Array. The pulsar is traveling at a breathtaking 2.5 million miles an hour.
Emerging Tech

Spacewalk a success as astronauts upgrade batteries on the ISS

The International Space Station was treated to some new batteries on Friday, thanks to two NASA astronauts who took a spacewalk for nearly seven hours in order to complete the upgrades.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover passes its tests with flying colors

The Mars 2020 rover team has been undertaking a series of tests to see if the craft will be able to launch, navigate, and land on the Red Planet. Called Systems Test 1, or ST1, these tests represent the first test drive of the new rover.
Emerging Tech

Trip to Neptune’s moon, Triton, could inform search for extraterrestrial life

NASA has proposed sending a craft to Neptune to study its largest moon, Triton. Studying Triton could offer clues to how liquid water is maintained on planets, which may indicate what to look for when searching for life beyond our planet.
Emerging Tech

China has cloned its best police dog. Now it wants to mass-produce more

Scientists in China have cloned the Sherlock Holmes of police sniffer dogs, with possible plans to mass produce it in the future. Here's why its creators think that's a great idea.
Emerging Tech

Scientists use drone to map Icelandic cave in preparation for Mars exploration

Researchers from the SETI Institute and Astrobotic Technology have demonstrated a way that astronauts may be able to map Martian caves using a Lidar-equipped drone that can travel autonomously without GPS.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

A 3D printer the size of a small barn will produce entire homes in Saudi Arabia

If you’re looking for a 3D printer that can comfortably fit on the side of your desk… well, Danish company Cobod International’s enormous new 3D house printer probably isn’t for you.
Deals

Need a ride? Amazon is slashing prices on popular electric scooters

If you’re not much of a cyclist or if you’re looking for a lazier way to zip about town, an electric scooter should be right up your alley. Two of our favorites, the foldable Glion Dolly and the eco-friendly Razor scooter, are on sale…
Emerging Tech

Unexpected particle plumes discovered jetting out of asteroid Bennu

The OSIRIS-REx craft traveled to asteroid Bennu last year and won't return until 2023. But the mission is already throwing up unexpected findings, like plumes of particles which are being ejected from the surface of the asteroid.
Outdoors

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Petzl to Tikkid, here are some of the best headlamps on the market.
Emerging Tech

A hive of activity: Using honeybees to measure urban pollution

According to a new study from Vancouver, bees could help us understand urban pollution. Scientists have found an innovative way to measure the level of source of pollution in urban environments: by analyzing honey.
Emerging Tech

Asteroid Ryugu is porous, shaped like a spinning top, and is formed of rubble

The Japanese Space Agency has been exploring a distant asteroid named Ryugu with its probe, Hayabusa 2. Now the first results from study of the asteroid are in, with three new papers published.
Emerging Tech

Chilean telescope uncovers one of the oldest star clusters in the galaxy

An ultra-high definition image captured by the Gemini South telescope in Chile has uncovered one of the oldest star clusters in the Milky Way. The cluster, called HP 1, could give clues to how our galaxy was formed billions of years ago.