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An artist rendering of a possible Low Boom Flight Demonstration Quiet Supersonic Transport (QueSST) X-plane design. Lockheed Martin photo.

​NASA awarded Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company a contract for preliminary design of a “low boom” flight demonstration aircraft, the first in a series of “X-planes” in NASA’s New Aviation Horizons initiative, according to a press release. Lockheed Martin will receive about $20 million over 17 months for the preliminary design work on quiet supersonic technology (QueSST), and will also develop baseline requirements and a preliminary design for the aircraft. “NASA is working hard to make flight greener, safer, and quieter—all while developing aircraft that travel faster, and building an aviation system that operates more efficiently,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. “It’s been almost 70 years since Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 as part of our predecessor agency’s high-speed research. Now we’re continuing that supersonic X-plane legacy with this preliminary design award for a quieter supersonic jet with an aim toward passenger flight.”