TechNASA's X-59, a quiet revolution in aviation's new era of supersonic flights

NASA's X‑59, a quiet revolution in aviation's new era of supersonic flights

The experimental NASA X-59 leaves the Lockheed Martin hangars.
The experimental NASA X-59 leaves the Lockheed Martin hangars.
Images source: © NASA

4:33 AM EST, January 11, 2024

NASA is poised to pioneer a breakthrough in aviation that will revolutionize the world. The key to this advancement is the experimental X-59 airplane, promising to inaugurate the era of commercial supersonic flights.

Supersonic aircraft in the airspace

Presently, supersonic aircraft are predominantly utilized in military operations. Commercial usage for passenger flights is limited as they're not permitted to fly over land due to the noise issues they pose. When these aircraft break the sound barrier, they produce such an intense bang that it's not only capable of causing deafness but can also damage surrounding buildings and infrastructure.

The X-59 supersonic aircraft, developed by NASA and Lockheed Martin, does not have this issue. Its full technical specifications aren't yet known, but NASA assures that it crosses the sound barrier quietly. Instead of a thunderous bang, it is designed to emit only subtle sound waves.

Test flights of the hushed supersonic airplane

After the assembly and testing of the X-59 is complete, a team of NASA engineers is slated to conduct several test flights over volunteer towns in the United States. The residents must register for the experiment and participate actively. Their perceptions will be crucial in assessing the sound emissions of the X-59 and any potential risks.

Rollout of the X-59 Quesst Supersonic Plane (Official NASA Broadcast)

Following this, the findings will be presented to domestic and international regulatory agencies. Through this, the Agency aims not so much to alter the regulations, but to adjust the applied criteria for assessing supersonic flights.

Currently, supersonic aircraft are restricted due to their high speed. The data gathered during X-59 flights will hopefully convince regulators to base their decisions more on noise levels rather than speed.

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