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Science & Technology

NASA to test its secretive X-59 supersonic plane in 2024

By T.K. Randall
October 31, 2023 · Comment icon 24 comments
X-59 supersonic aircraft concept image.
Is this the future of commercial aviation ? Image Credit: NASA / Lockheed Martin
This cutting-edge experimental aircraft will be capable of breaking the sound barrier without creating loud sonic booms.
If we didn't already know all about it, the X-59 would be considered the perfect example of a 'black project' - an experimental aircraft designed to push the boundaries of what's currently possible.

Developed through a collaboration between NASA and Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, this highly advanced (and somewhat mysterious) aircraft aims to achieve the impossible by making supersonic flight possible without the associated sonic boom, instead softening it to a quieter 'sonic thump'.

Supersonic flight has been heavily regulated for years, with most countries forbidding such flights over land due to the noise and vibration caused by the sonic booms.

NASA, however, is hoping that the X-59 is going to change all that.
Due to begin flight testing next year, the new QuessT (Quiet SuperSonic Technology) aircraft is certainly unique, having been cobbled together from parts belonging to other types of planes.

If it succeeds, it could open up a whole new era of quiet supersonic flight.

"The X-59 will demonstrate the ability to fly supersonic, or faster than the speed of sound, while reducing the normally loud sonic boom to a quiet sonic thump," NASA wrote in a press release.

"NASA plans to fly the X-59 over several communities to gather data on how people perceive the sound it produces. The agency will provide that information to U.S. and international regulators to potentially adjust rules that currently prohibit commercial supersonic flight over land."

"Quesst is a mission with the potential to revolutionize commercial aviation travel by dramatically reducing travel time. Safely and reliably flying the X-59 is critical for NASA to achieve those benefits."

Source: NASA.gov | Comments (24)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #15 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 6 months ago
Comment icon #16 Posted by Jon the frog 6 months ago
Remind me the X-3 Stiletto, X-3 didn't have the engine to do the job but this one will. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_X-3_Stiletto
Comment icon #17 Posted by Sgt84801 6 months ago
The technology maybe great, but I see little benefit in using this prototype for commercial use. Perhaps the technology will be used to make a commercial transporter.
Comment icon #18 Posted by Nosy.Matters 6 months ago
Soon --for transportation purposes of course, they'll be strapping people to missiles and rockets.       eidt / edit great post by the way     , , , ,  --nosy
Comment icon #19 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 6 months ago
That is the entire point of this aircraft. It is built entirely to test technology that can be transferred to future passenger planes. That is why you build experimental prototypes in the first place.
Comment icon #20 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 6 months ago
SpaceX has proposed doing precisely that with their Starship,
Comment icon #21 Posted by Gertdoggy 6 months ago
This would have tremendous military benefit. Spy planes for example are designed to never be detected, not just be miles away when detected. The less the enemy questions the better.
Comment icon #22 Posted by psyche101 6 months ago
It's a way to bring back what we had with Concord. It was indeed popular. There is a tremendous civilian market for this. Very clever.
Comment icon #23 Posted by psyche101 6 months ago
Commercial airlines have been working on it for years.   https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bbc.com/news/business-44795639.amp
Comment icon #24 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 2 months ago
NASA’s X-59 Passes Milestone Toward Safe First Flight  

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