NASA Readies X-59 Quiet Supersonic Airplane Development Timeline

Lockheed Martin X-59 Quiet Supersonic Airplane rendering 1 photo
Photo: NASA
Back in April, NASA announced that its revolutionary quiet supersonic aircraft called X-59 will be built by Lockheed Martin from 2021. The plane is to be produced on a cost-plus-incentive-fee contract valued at $247.5 million.
On Monday, the agency once again announced its official engagement in the project, getting ready the development timeline which will make the aircraft a reality three years from now.

Initially called QueSST X-Plane, or the Quiet Supersonic Transport, the aircraft is envisioned as a replacement for the Concorde, but one that will be capable of going supersonic above land.

Currently, aviation industry restrictions prevent that from happening, mainly on account of the boom generated when the sound barrier is breached.

The ban is a result of the huge number of claims against the Air Force filed between 1950 and 1960 which prompted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ban all overland supersonic commercial flights.

According to Lockheed, the X-59 will be capable of separating the shocks and expansions in the air associated with supersonic flight and reduce the sonic boom to as much as 60 dB, the volume you get in your average conversation with a friend. By comparison, the Concorde was rated at 90 dB.

The plane is supposed to fly at Mach 1.4, about 1,100 mph (1,770 km/h), twice the speed of today’s commercial airliners and close to the maximum speed achieved by the Concorde.

“This aircraft has the potential to transform aviation in the United States and around the world by making faster-than-sound air travel over land possible for everyone,” said in a statewment ASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “We can’t wait to see this bird fly!”

The tests of the airplane will be conducted over select inhabited areas in the U.S., aiming to gather relevant information from civilians about the perceived noise level which is to be used by regulators to set up new rules for supersonic flight over land.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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