Friday, January 5, 2024

NASA to unveil new X-59 supersonic aircraft with a ‘sonic thump’

For the first time, the public will get a look at NASA’s new X-59 aircraft designed as part of the agency's Quesst mission to make commercial supersonic flight over land possible.

The X-59 is the centerpiece of NASA's Quesst mission to collect community response data from flights over representative communities across the United States. This data will be used by NASA to recommend an acceptable commercial supersonic noise standard to regulators to possibly repeal the current ban on supersonic flight over land and thereby change the future of commercial aviation, reducing flight times by half of what they are currently. 

The experimental aircraft will be unveiled during a ceremony hosted by prime contractor Lockheed Martin Skunk Works in Palmdale, Calif.

Members of the public can sign up to get a virtual boarding pass for the X-59's first flight. Via NASA's Flight Log experience, participants' names will be digitized and downloaded onto a storage device that will be carried personally by the X-59 pilot. Participants will also receive a printable boarding pass with their names, and the flight will be entered into their logbooks.

The X-59 is a one-of-a-kind experimental aircraft that will demonstrate the ability to fly supersonic while generating a gentle "sonic thump" rather than a loud sonic boom. “Similar to a car door shutting in the distance,” NASA said in a statement Friday.

Once the X-59 completes assembly and testing, NASA's Quesst team will select several U.S. communities to fly the aircraft and gather data on how people perceive the sound it produces.

The X-59 was designed and built by Lockheed Martin at its famed Skunk Works facility.

The X-59 rollout ceremony on Jan. 12 will feature remarks from Lockheed Martin and NASA leadership before the aircraft is unveiled to the public.

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