NASA is looking to begin work on a prototype supersonic plane as early as next month, aiming to create an aircraft that could cut travel time between London and New York to less than four hours.
Unlike other prototypical aircraft we’ve written about before, NASA’s craft has clear working precedent in the form of now-defunct Concorde. That could achieve supersonic flight, with a max speed of twice the speed of sound, but the ‘sonic boom’ it produced when breaking the sound barrier (and the noise it made in general) was so obnoxious that severe restrictions were placed on where it could fly – supersonic flight over the USA remains banned today.
NASA’s proposed craft is designed with a modified, sleek shape that will have less impact on the air around it, therefore meaning it will break the sound barrier a little more subtly than Concorde, and be significantly quieter overall.
Reports suggest NASA will work with manufacturers the likes of Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and General Dynamics to develop the prototype.
Still, it’s a little way off – NASA is planning live tests for 2022.