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  • Voltaire Staff

NASA introduces 'quiet' supersonic jet

An image of X-59 on a runway

NASA and Lockheed Martin have introduced a "quiet" supersonic jet called the X-59, designed to go faster than the speed of sound without causing loud sonic booms.

If successful, this plane could change how we think about fast flights.

After working on it for many years, NASA and Lockheed Martin introduced the finished X-59, also known as Quesst, on Friday at the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works facility in California.

The X-59 is part of NASA's Quesst mission which will gather data from people  on the ground observing fly-bys of the plane for a reconsideration of regulations regarding commercial supersonic flight.

The aircraft is expected to fly at 1.4 times the speed of sound (925 mph) and generate a quieter sonic thump. Once flight tests are completed, the X-59 will be flown over select US cities to collect public input on the perceived sound, with the data shared with aviation regulators.

The X-59's unique design includes a thin, tapered nose to break up shock waves, a cockpit without a forward-facing window, and an external vision system using high-resolution cameras.

Pam Melroy, NASA Deputy Administrator, said about the X-59's, "The first A in NASA stands for aeronautics. And we're all about groundbreaking aerospace innovation."

She continued, "The X-59 proudly continues this legacy, representing the forefront of technology driving aviation forward. This isn't just an airplane, this is an X-plane. It's the manifestation of a collaborative genius."

NASA aims to collect data on how people on the ground experience the quieter sonic booms produced by the X-59 during its test flights over specific areas. This data will be used to seek approval from regulatory agencies for commercial supersonic flights, making air travel more sustainable and faster over populated regions.

Flights by supersonic planes are banned for more than 50 years in the US and other countries because of the noise they generate.

“NASA will share the data and technology we generate from this one-of-a-kind mission with regulators and with industry. By demonstrating the possibility of quiet commercial supersonic travel over land, we seek to open new commercial markets for U.S. companies and benefit travelers around the world,” said Bob Pearce, associate administrator for aeronautics research at NASA Headquarters in Washington.


While NASA and Lockheed Martin work on the X-59, other companies like Boom Supersonic are also developing commercial supersonic jets for faster and more efficient air travel.



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