By Elizabeth Howell published 16 May 22
It should take off later this year.
NASA’s new X-59 supersonic jet is coming together quickly after its latest pit stop in California.
Engineers at Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works facility in Palmdale talked about the work of the forthcoming quiet supersonic flyer in a new YouTube video, released a few weeks after the jet arrived in April after stress tests in Fort Worth, Texas.
The X-59 supersonic jet video, which Lockheed posted Wednesday (May 10), opens with an incredible timelapse showing the jet coming together within view of a large team of technicians, seeking to make supersonic flight more silent than ever before.
While previous generations of such aircraft, such as Concorde, were known to rattle windows when flying over the speed of sound, the X-59, NASA has said previously, should be no more noisy than a car door slamming 20 feet (6 meters) away.
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The video also features project engineers talking about everything from fuel rates, to design testing, to making sure that the modeling for the flight’s cruise phase is within lines of expectations (and so far, it appears to be.)
“While the aircraft is being built here in Palmdale, we’ve had fantastic support from across the country,” Michael Buonanno, X-59 air vehicle engineering lead, said in the video.
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Assuming the initial flight schedule goes to plan, NASA aims to test its X-59 over several communities in the United States starting in 2024.
“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,” the agency said in an April 18 statement.
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Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a contributing writer for Space.com since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she tackles topics like spaceflight, diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth’s on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada’s Carleton University. Her latest book, NASA Leadership Moments, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.