NASA and Lockheed Martin are joining forces in an ambitious bid to develop a state-of-the-art prototype plane that could put the idea of supersonic passenger travel back on the agenda.
The jet, which is being built by Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works in California, is designed to fly at a height of 55,000 feet with a staggering speed of 940mph.
"The start of manufacturing on the project marks a great leap forward for the X-59 and the future of quiet supersonic commercial travel," Fox News quoted Lockheed Martin Programme Director Peter Iosifidis as saying.
“The long, slender design of the aircraft is the key to achieving a low sonic boom,” he added.
NASA selected Lockheed Martin to design the Low Boom Flight Demonstrator, which experts hope will make its maiden flight in 2021 and help NASA establish an acceptable commercial supersonic noise standard to overturn current regulations banning supersonic travel over land.
They also hope that when it breaks the sound barrier, the X-59 will create a sound about as loud as a car door closing.
When fully operational, the new supersonic plane would fly from London to New York in just three hours without giving off a loud sonic boom.
It would become the first commercial supersonic passenger jet since the Anglo-French Concorde was decommissioned 15 years ago.