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NASA denies Japanese SST talks

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The SSTA NASA spokeswoman has denied that the agency plans to hold talks with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) over the development of the latter's Next Generation Supersonic Transport (SST).

NASA's Melissa Mathews shot down the claims on Tuesday with: "It's my understanding there is no discussion on that at this time with the Japanese."

A spokewoman for Boeing - which had been rumoured to be in the frame to build the vehicle's airframe - confirmed that the company was "not aware of any plan" to even discuss such a project.

The initial report of the scheduled June talks came from Japanese business sheet Nihon Keizai. JAXA spokesman Kiyotaka Yashiro said: "In the future, we think we need some kind of co-operation with NASA."

Whether that co-operation now happens remains to be seen. The Japanese have, however, managed to get the project off the ground without NASA or Boeing's input. Back in October 2005, JAXA successfully tested an 11.5m SST prototype at Australia's Woomera range reaching around Mach 2 for 15 minutes.

The Japanese reckon they have cracked the two big problems associated with supersonic aircraft: fuel consumption and noise. They plan to tackle these with improved aircraft shape, quieter and more economical jet engines, coupled with the use of composite materials. There's more on the project here. ®

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