UNITED STATES- NASA and Lockheed Martin officially revealed the X-59 quiet supersonic aircraft. With this unique experimental plane, NASA seeks to collect data that could transform air travel, opening doors for a new era of commercial aircraft capable of surpassing the speed of sound.
Pam Melroy, NASA Deputy Administrator, praised the significant achievement, attributing it to the dedication and innovation of the entire X-59 team. Their hard work has made this accomplishment possible.
NASA’s Supersonic Aircraft X-59
In just a few years, we’ve turned an ambitious concept into reality. NASA’s X-59 is set to revolutionize travel, bringing us closer together in significantly less time.
Melroy and other top officials unveiled the aircraft at a ceremony hosted by Lockheed Martin Skunk Works in Palmdale, California.
The X-59 plays a central role in NASA’s Quesst mission, aiming to provide data that could prompt a reevaluation of regulations prohibiting commercial supersonic flight over land.
For half a century, the U.S. and other nations have restricted such flights due to the disruptive sonic booms they create in communities below.
Expected to reach 1.4 times the speed of sound (925 mph), the X-59’s design and technologies enable it to achieve these speeds while producing a quieter sonic thump.
X-59 to Revolutionize Air Travel
It’s truly exciting to contemplate the bold vision driving Quesst and the potential advantages it holds,” stated Bob Pearce, associate administrator for aeronautics research at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
“NASA is committed to sharing the valuable data and technology generated from this unique mission with regulators and industry alike.
By showcasing the feasibility of quiet commercial supersonic travel over land, we aim to unlock new markets for U.S. companies and enhance the travel experience globally.”
With the completion of the rollout, the Quesst team will transition to the next phase of preparations for the first flight, involving integrated systems testing, engine runs, and taxi testing for the X-59.
Scheduled for later this year, the aircraft’s inaugural flight will be followed by its first quiet supersonic flight.
The Quesst team plans to conduct several flight tests at Skunk Works before relocating the aircraft to NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, where it will operate as its home base.
Quesst Mission Milestones Unveiled
John Clark, vice president and general manager at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, expressed gratitude for the collaboration of talented scientists, engineers, and artisans in developing the X-59.
Lockheed Martin is proud to contribute to shaping the future of supersonic travel over land, partnering with NASA and suppliers.
Once NASA concludes flight tests, the X-59 will fly over selected U.S. cities, gathering public feedback on its sound. NASA will share this data with the Federal Aviation Administration and global regulators.
The X-59, an experimental airplane, not a prototype, incorporates technologies to influence future quiet supersonic aircraft. With a length of 99.7 feet and a width of 29.5 feet, its unique shape and technological advancements enable quiet supersonic flight.
The slender, tapered nose, constituting almost a third of its length, disrupts shock waves, preventing a typical supersonic sonic boom.
Featuring a mid-length cockpit without a forward-facing window, the Quesst team introduced the eXternal Vision System—a set of high-resolution cameras linked to a 4K monitor.
The engine’s top mount and smooth underside prevent shockwaves from coalescing, minimizing the risk of a sonic boom.
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