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NASA & Lockheed Martin Building Quieter Supersonic Aircraft

NASA awards a contract for the design, building and testing of a supersonic aircraft to Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company of Palmdale, California. Photo: NASA

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NASA and Lockheed Martin are teaming up to explore faster-than-sound passenger and cargo air travel.

Supersonic aircraft are banned from flying over land because as they break the sound barrier the planes create a loud sonic boom.

NASA has been studying sonic booms since the 1940s.  The agency recently awarded Lockheed Martin a $247 million contract to build a new spacecraft that would produce merely a thump instead of a boom.

The project would fly the new super-sonic, ultra-quiet plane over cities across the U.S. to gather sound levels.

NASA will give that data to regulators as they consider new sound-based rules for spacecraft. If it’s quiet enough, faster-than-sound airplanes could be coming to the U.S. passenger and cargo market in the 2020s.

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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Are We There Yet?' Host

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration. He also helps produce WMFE's public affairs show "Intersection," working with host ... Read Full Bio »