Science & Technology
NASA to test its secretive X-59 supersonic plane in 2024
By T.K. Randall
October 31, 2023 · 10 comments
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."
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