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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 10 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: | Comments (10)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by OverSword 1 month ago
I'm going to guess that this has already been achieved for the military for planes we have no idea exist
Comment icon #2 Posted by Earl.Of.Trumps 1 month ago
Exactly, @OverSword. What they show us is really yesterday's dark news lol  However... this is still cool. And they say the body of the craft was parts of other crafts hobbled together? Whatever works.  
Comment icon #3 Posted by Cho Jinn 1 month ago
These things will be $14.99 on Temu in 48 hours.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 18 days ago
That seems highly unlikely. This technology has questionable military benefit, but large benefits for civilian flight. If the military had this technology and wanted to keep it secret then NASA would not be allowed to carry out this research. If, on the other hand, the military has this technology and feels it is time for it to be in civilian hands they would simply declassify it and save $millions wasted in duplicated research.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 18 days ago
NASA’s X-59 Goes from Green to Red, White, and Blue  
Comment icon #6 Posted by OverSword 17 days ago
A stealth bomber with muffled supersonic ability would have questionable military benefits?
Comment icon #7 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 17 days ago
How would muffling a sound only heard AFTER the vehicle is long past have any benefit? The point of stealth technology is to prevent the aircraft being detected by radar and to prevent enemy weapons systems being able to lock on to that vehicle. Muffling the sonic boom would not help that at all.
Comment icon #8 Posted by OverSword 17 days ago
Because people may report a sonic boom and alert their defenses
Comment icon #9 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 17 days ago
By which time, travelling at supersonic speed, it's many miles away (it already was many miles away before the people on the ground heard the sonic boom) and still undetectable by radar. None of this answers this point I made: Your argument (which you admit was based on a guess) just doesn't stand up to logic... although, I will concede, neither does the military mind at times... military intelligence, possibly the greatest oxymoron in human history.
Comment icon #10 Posted by OverSword 17 days ago
And this is the actual reason I believe this technology probably already exists.

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