HAMPTON, Va. — NASA is hoping to develop a plane that will break the sound barrier without producing a deafening sonic boom, and the agency’s research center in Virginia is playing a big role.

The space agency announced Tuesday that it awarded a $250 million contract to Lockheed Martin Skunk Works to build a piloted prototype plane using low-boom technologies.

The bone-rattling boom of supersonic aircraft has severely limited their commercial viability.

The Daily Press reports that NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton will play a lead role in all of the aerodynamics work, as well as low-speed wind-tunnel testing.

The current design closely mimics models that underwent wind tunnel tests at Langley last fall.

If all goes as planned, test flights of the new plane could begin in 2021.


Information from: Daily Press, http://www.dailypress.com/