Design Engineering

NASA taps Lockheed Martin for supersonic X-plane


General Aerospace lockheed martin NASA

The two hope developing an X-plane demonstrator will lead to the commercialization of worldwide supersonic travel. 

lockheed martin nasa x-plane supersonic

The Lockheed Martin Skunk Works’ X-plane design will cruise at 55,000 feet, Mach 1.4, and will generate a gentle, supersonic heartbeat instead of a sonic boom.

NASA is making supersonic air travel a reality. The space agency has awarded Lockheed Martin Skunk Works a contract to design, build and flight test the Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator X-plane.

“It is super exciting to be back designing and flying X-planes at this scale,” said Jaiwon Shin, NASA’s associate administrator for aeronautics, who believes they will be able to solve the technical barriers of supersonic flight.

Lockheed Martin Skunk Works will develop and build a full-scale experimental aircraft of its preliminary design developed under NASA’s Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) effort.

NASA is hoping that this X-plane will help establish an acceptable commercial supersonic noise standard to overturn current regulations banning commercial supersonic travel over land.


“We’re honored to continue our partnership with NASA to enable a new generation of supersonic travel,” said Peter Iosifidis, Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator program manager, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works.

Iosifidis added that they are looking forward to developing a demonstrator that will eventually lead to the commercialization of worldwide supersonic travel.

For the past decade, the two companies have been working together to develop the next generation of commercial supersonic aircraft. NASA awarded Lockheed Martin Skunk Works a contract in February 2016 for the preliminary design of the supersonic X-plane flight demonstrator.

The aircraft will be built at the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works facility in Palmdale, California, and will conduct its first flight in 2021.


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