Tuesday, July 26, 2022

NASA's X-59 Supersonic Aircraft: Preparing for the Next Generation

NASA's X-59 Supersonic Aircraft Model: Preparing for the Next Generation

In these images, a technician works on the X-59 model during testing in the low-speed wind tunnel during February 2022. NASA's Quesst mission has two goals: 1) design and build NASA’s X-59 research aircraft with technology that reduces the loudness of a sonic boom to a gentle thump to people on the ground; and 2) fly the X-59 over select U.S. communities to gather data on human responses to the sound generated during supersonic flight and deliver that data set to U.S. and international regulators.

Using this data, new sound-based rules regarding supersonic flight over land can be written and adopted, which would open the doors to new commercial cargo and passenger markets to provide faster-than-sound air travel.

Before NASA’s quiet supersonic X-59 aircraft takes to the skies, plenty of testing happens to ensure a safe first flight. One part of this safety check is to analyze data collected for the X-59’s flight control system through low-speed wind tunnel tests.

The X-59 is central to NASA’s Quesst mission to expand supersonic flight and provide regulators with data to help change existing national and international aviation rules that ban commercial supersonic flight over land. The aircraft is designed to produce a gentle thump instead of a sonic boom.

Recently, Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works facility in Palmdale, California, completed low-speed wind tunnel tests of a scale model of the X-59’s forebody. The tests provided measurements of how wind flows around the aircraft nose and confirmed computer predictions made using computational fluid dynamics, or CFD, software tools. The data will be fed into the aircraft flight control system and will allow the pilot to know the altitude, speed and angle that the aircraft is flying at in the sky.

For more information about NASA's quiet supersonic mission, visit:


Image Credit: Lockheed Martin

Release Dates: July 21 & 27, 2022

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