Last month, we reported that the X-59, NASA’s quiet supersonic experimental aircraft, is undergoing critical ground tests in Ft. Worth, Texas. After successfully completing those tests, it has arrived back at Lockheed Martin‘s Skunk Works facility in Palmdale, California.
Ground tests on the X-59 QueSST aircraft were done to ensure its ability to withstand the loads and stresses of supersonic flight – or flight at speeds faster than Mach 1 (1,235 km/h). The aircraft’s fuel systems were also calibrated and tested at Lockheed Martin’s Ft. Worth facilities. With its return to California, the X-59 is now ready to undergo further ground tests as it approaches full completion of its development and continues to make progress on its way to its first flight.
The X-59 experimental aircraft is designed to fly faster than the speed of sound without producing the typically loud sonic booms that occur when an aircraft flies at supersonic speeds. Thus advanced X-plane will instead reduce that sound to a quiet sonic thump. The first flight of the aircraft is expected to take place by the end of the year, followed by acoustic validation flights in 2023 and flights over communities around the U.S. starting in 2024.
As per the timetable released by the space agency, the test flights should continue for the next three years, and the results of the community overflights will be delivered to the International Civil Aviation Organization and Federal Aviation Administration in 2027.
NASA’s goal is to collect and provide data to regulators that may finally solve the sonic boom challenge and open the future to commercial supersonic flight over land, reducing flight times drastically.