The High Speed Civil Transport (HSCT), a supersonic airliner, was the focus of the High-Speed Research (HSR) Program, a NASA program to develop the technology needed to design and build a supersonic transport that would be environmentally acceptable and economically feasible. The aircraft was to be a future supersonic passenger aircraft, baselined to cruise at Mach 2.4, or more than twice the speed of sound. The project started in 1990 and ended during 1999. The goal was to employ up-to-date technologies.
It was intended to cross the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean in half the time of a non-supersonic aircraft. It was also intended to be fuel efficient, carry 300 passengers, and to allow customers to buy tickets at a price only slightly higher than those of subsonic aircraft. The goal was to provide sufficient technology for an industry-led product launch decision in 2002, and if a product was launched, a maiden flight within 20 years.
The program was based on the successes and failures of the British/French Concorde and the Russian Tupolev Tu-144, as well as a previous NASA Supersonic Transport (SST) program from the early 1970s. (For the latter, see Lockheed L-2000 and Boeing 2707.) While the Concorde and Tu-144 programs both produced production aircraft, neither was produced in sufficient numbers to pay for their development costs.