NASA, Lockheed Martin building plane that could see the return of supersonic passenger travel

NASA is joining forces with U.S. defense giant Lockheed Martin to build a state-of-the-art test plane that could pave the way for the return of supersonic passenger travel.

It's hoped the X-59 will be capable of reaching incredible speeds without creating the deafening sonic boom that always comes with breaking the sound barrier.

The jet — which has been dubbed the Son of Concorde — is designed to fly at 55,000 feet height and reach an incredible 940mph.

Lockheed Martin said the move "marks a milestone to bring supersonic commercial travel over land one step closer to reality."

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"The start of manufacturing on the project marks a great leap forward for the X-59 and the future of quiet supersonic commercial travel," said Peter Iosifidis of Lockheed.

'The long, slender design of the aircraft is the key to achieving a low sonic boom.

"As we enter into the manufacturing phase, the aircraft structure begins to take shape, bringing us one step closer to enabling supersonic travel for passengers around the world."

NASA selected Lockheed Martin to design the Low Boom Flight Demonstrator — which could eventually pave the way for a larger commercial aircraft.

The aviation experts working on the project hope the X-59 will conduct its maiden flight in 2021 when it will be used to collect data on quieter supersonic travel.

It's hoped it will help NASA establish an acceptable commercial supersonic noise standard to overturn current regulations banning supersonic travel over land.

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When it breaks the sound barrier, it's hoped it will create a sound about as loud as a car door closing (75 Perceived Level decibels).

The first flight of the X-59, which could one day fly from London to New York in just three hours without giving off a loud sonic boom, is scheduled for 2021.

The craft could become the first commercial supersonic aircraft to carry passengers since the iconic Anglo-French jet Concorde was decommissioned 15 years ago.

This story was originally published in The Sun.