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X-59 Supersonic Plane Could Transform Commercial Flight

By Michael Katz From Newsmax

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NASA and Lockheed Martin unveiled a new supersonic aircraft that could revolutionize the industry and pave the way for a new generation of commercial aircraft that can travel faster than the speed of sound.

The X-59 supersonic jet, introduced Friday at Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works facility in Palmdale, California, is the centerpiece of NASA’s Quesst mission to provide the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with an acceptable noise standard to overcome regulations that have prohibited supersonic flights over land since 1973.

“This is a major accomplishment made possible only through the hard work and ingenuity from NASA and the entire X-59 team,” NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy said in a news release. “In just a few short years, we’ve gone from an ambitious concept to reality. NASA’s X-59 will help change the way we travel, bringing us closer together in much less time.”

The U.S. and other nations have prohibited supersonic flights over land because of the noise generated by the sonic boom of an aircraft breaking the speed of sound. The X-59 is expected to fly at 1.4 times the speed of sound, or 925 mph. NASA said its design, slender shaping, and technologies allow the aircraft to achieve such speeds while generating a quieter sonic thump.

“We’re thrilled to take on this challenge alongside NASA, whose quiet supersonic technology mission will have lasting, transformational impacts for people around the world,” said John Clark, vice president and general manager, of Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, in a news release. “This project is just one example of the broader ingenuity of our industry as we continually strive to push the envelope of what’s possible.”

NASA said the aircraft will take its first flight later this year, followed by its first quiet supersonic flight. The Quesst team will conduct several of the aircraft’s flight tests at the Lockheed facility before transferring it to NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, which will serve as its base of operations.

Once flight tests are completed, the agency said it will fly the aircraft over several to-be-selected cities across the U.S., collecting input about the sound the X-59 generates and how people perceive it. NASA will provide that data to the FAA and international regulators. Lockheed Martin said in a news release the technology could cut commercial flight times to half of what they are today.

At 99.7 feet long and 29.5 feet wide, the aircraft’s shape and the technological advancements it houses will make quiet supersonic flight possible, NASA said. The X-59’s thin, tapered nose accounts for almost a third of its length and will break up the shock waves that would ordinarily result in a supersonic aircraft causing a sonic boom.

Because of this configuration, the cockpit is located almost halfway down the length of the aircraft – and does not have a forward-facing window. Instead, NASA said the Quesst team developed the eXternal Vision System, a series of high-resolution cameras feeding a 4K monitor in the cockpit.

Michael Katz | [email protected]

Michael Katz is a Newsmax reporter with more than 30 years of experience reporting and editing on news, culture, and politics.

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