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Supersonic   Lockheed Martin will develop a preliminary design of an aircraft

NASA plans to build supersonic passenger jet

NASA supersonicNASA plans to build a supersonic passenger jet which will be as quiet and efficient as possible, the U.S. Space Agency announced.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said that it has awarded a first contract, worth $20 million, to Lockheed Martin to develop a preliminary design of an aircraft which surpasses the speed of sound.

READ MORE Supersonic flights to cover New York-London distance in 4 hours

Despite using a jet engine, which traditionally causes loud noise, the sound levels produced by the new aircraft would be minimal. Limiting the noise levels of aircraft has become one of the main challenges of aviation research in recent years.

The new design would also meet the requirements for reduction of pollution as it would optimize fuel consumption.

"NASA is working hard to make flight greener, safer and quieter," said Charles Bolden on Monday at the Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC.

The design and the construction of the new supersonic aircraft will take several years and NASA estimates that first flight tests would start around 2020.

Commercial supersonic flights were canceled when British Airways and Air France ceased their Concorde operations in 2003. The Concorde aircraft was capable of traveling at a maximum speed of 2.180 kph, more than twice the speed of sound.

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