NASA’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology aircraft (QueSST) has moved to Lockheed Martin’s Texas facilities for critical ground testing.
This next stage, which will ensure it can withstand the stresses of flight, is progress towards the project’s target of first flight later in the year.
The quiet supersonic jet was moved from Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works assembly area in Palmdale, California wrapped up in preparation for transportation.
While in Texas, testing of the X-59 will also calibrate and test the fuel systems before the X-59 makes the journey back to Palmdale for more tests and completion.
The X-59 is designed to reduce the loudness of the sonic boom, which occurs when an aircraft flies faster than the speed of sound, to a gentle, quiet sonic “thump”.
As one of the more recognisable features of the X-59, the nose, makes up almost a third of the aircraft length and will be essential in shaping shock waves during supersonic flight, resulting in quiet sonic thumps instead of loud sonic booms.
The aircraft will demonstrate this in flights over communities around the US starting in 2024 as NASA collects data that could open the future to commercial supersonic flights over land.
Most of the preparation for the X-59's assembly involved more than a decade’s worth of research on quiet supersonic technology. NASA’s quiet supersonic mission plans to bring all of the science and technology developed during those years into the spotlight.
Initial assembly of the demonstrator began in 2018 at Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works facility.