NASA presents the revolutionary ‘silent’ supersonic jet X-59 Questst 9 (photos, video)

The X-59 is finally here.

As NASA’s newest Instead, the Quest will make a much quieter “thump,” similar to the sound of a car door slamming shut heard from inside. If successful, the aircraft has the potential to revolutionize supersonic flight and aviation in general.

After years of development, NASA and Lockheed Martin showed off the completed , California. , a research and development site typically known for its secrecy.

In pictures: Incredible X-Planes from X-1 to XV-15

Crowds watch sleek supersonic plane unveiled in hangar

Crowds watch sleek supersonic plane unveiled in hangar

“It is rare that we have the opportunity to welcome so many visitors to the Skunk Works, and it is even rarer that we have been able to publicly reveal one of our aircraft,” said John Clark, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. .

When the curtain finally fell to reveal the The aircraft’s elongated, beak-shaped nose section stood out prominently, displaying the fact that it does not have a forward-facing window.

“This is a moment that future generations will remember with awe and admiration,” said Greg Ulmer, vice president of aeronautics at Lockheed Martin. “Skunk Works’ mantra of fast, quiet and quality takes on a whole new meaning. As we usher in hopes for a new era of silent supersonic travel, made possible by our collaboration with NASA.”

In pictures: Chuck Yeager: first person to break the sound barrier

A sleek white and blue supersonic jet on the runwayA sleek white and blue supersonic jet on the runway

A sleek white and blue supersonic jet on the runway

During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy highlighted the agency’s long history of pioneering innovative aviation developments.

“The first A in NASA stands for aeronautics. And our goal is groundbreaking aerospace innovation,” Melroy said. “The X-59 proudly continues this legacy, representing the cutting edge of technology that powers aviation.”

NASA’s latest X-plane (“X” for “experimental”) is the culmination of decades of research and involved radically different manufacturing approaches, including new augmented reality systems, robotic drilling and 3D modeling techniques.

“This is not just an airplane, it’s an X airplane,” Melroy added. “It is the manifestation of a collaborative genius.”

an elongated airplane stands on a runway with mountains in the backgroundan elongated airplane stands on a runway with mountains in the background

an elongated airplane stands on a runway with mountains in the background

But Melroy admitted he had some doubts about the revolutionary aircraft at first. “As a test driver, the first time I looked at the design I was like ‘hmm’, I really had some questions about it.”

In particular, Melroy was referring to the fact that the X-59 does not have a forward-facing window, a design choice that helps reduce the sonic boom the aircraft produces. Instead, he features what NASA calls the External Vision System, or XVS, which consists of a camera and cockpit-mounted display that gives pilots an augmented reality view of what’s in front of the plane.

Melroy said this system has the potential to revolutionize aircraft design.

“We haven’t felt comfortable installing a manned flight vehicle without testing it first. So this innovative technology is really a beacon guiding us toward a future where visibility barriers in aircraft design can be overcome with this inventive solution.” “.

a white airplane on a runwaya white airplane on a runway

a white airplane on a runway

NASA leaders used the presentation to underscore the role both the agency and the Southern California area have played in America’s rich history of pushing the boundaries of aeronautics. “This journey actually began in 1947, when the era of supersonic flight began here in the California high desert with test pilot Chuck Yeager and the X-1,” said NASA Associate Administrator for the Directorate of Aeronautical Research Missions of the agency, Robert Pearce.

Jim Free, NASA associate administrator, continued this sentiment, noting that the X-59 is simply the latest in a long line of NASA X-planes that have revolutionized aviation throughout the agency’s history.

“Even among other possible”. in flight. And once they try those concepts, they often go to museums. And that’s really what makes the X-59 different.”


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— Photos: Incredible X-Planes from X-1 to XV-15

Free was referring to the fact that once the booms it creates.

NASA will then use that data to seek approval for commercial supersonic flights from regulatory agencies like the Federal Aviation Administration, with the ultimate goal of making aviation more sustainable and enabling faster flights over populated areas.

“The X-59 represents a nearly 100-foot-long step forward in the journey of discovery that began decades ago, a step toward opening the door to sustainable commercial supersonic flight over land,” Pearce added.

Some of the applications of supersonic flight mentioned in today’s presentation include rapid medical response, shorter shipping times, and, of course, faster travel.

NASA and Lockheed Martin are not the only ones conducting commercial flights at speeds above the sound barrier. Colorado-based Boom Supersonic is developing a commercial supersonic airliner, the XB-1, which the company hopes to have in the air on its first flight in 2027.

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