NASA Supersonic Aircraft Dangles Free Inside Skunk Works Facility, Test Flight in 2022

X-59 QueSST without jig system 8 photos
Photo: Lockheed Martin
X-59 QueSST without jig systemX-59 QueSST without jig systemNASA QueSST airplaneNASA QueSST airplaneNASA QueSST airplaneNASA QueSST airplaneNASA QueSST airplane
It’s been three years now since NASA and Lockheed Martin kicked off the assembly of the X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) aircraft, and the piece of machinery that is supposed to bring back supersonic passenger flight is finally dangling free of the scaffolding that supported it.
At the end of last week, NASA announced the event that actually took place back in October: the airplane was lifted off the jig system on which it rested as it was assembled inside Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works facility, marking a major step in the right direction for the hardware.

Now dangling by some sort of crane, the X-59 is getting ready to be tested for structural integrity, and once that’s clear, final assembly is set to begin. A power-on test for internal systems comes next, then structural tests and NASA plans to have the thing in the air for its first flight tests sometime next year.

The X-59 is in fact a demonstrator for an actual supersonic civilian airplane that should be capable of going supersonic over populated areas, without disturbing anyone with its sonic booms. Thanks to the way it was designed, it will be capable of separating the shocks and expansions associated with supersonic flight, and reducing the sonic boom to as much as 60 dB, way down from the 90 dB the Concorde created.

After all the testing is completed, the demonstrator airplane will be taken in the skies over America, in an attempt to get a real feel of the discomfort it creates in average Joes.

The American space agency did not say when it plans of having a full-grown aircraft ready for deployment in the civilian sector, but we’re probably still a few long decades away, so don’t get all hyped up by development announcements such as the one you just read about.
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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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