X-59 has finally arrived.
As NASA's newest X-plane, the X-59 is designed to break the sound barrier without the loud sonic booms that typically occur when planes fly at hypersonic speeds. Instead, Quest will emit a quieter sound, similar to the sound of a car door closing when 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 demonstrated the final X-59 Quesst (“Quiet SuperSonic Technology”) today (January 12) to a crowd of about 150 people at the legendary Lockheed Martin Skunk Works facility in Palmdale, California. , a research and development site usually known for its secrecy.
in the pictures: Amazing X-planes from the X-1 to the XV-15
“It is rare that we have the opportunity to host so many visitors at Skunk Works, and even rarer that we are able to publicly unveil one of our aircraft,” said John Clark, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. .
When the curtain finally came down to reveal the The plane's long, beak-like nose section stood out prominently, indicative of the fact that it did not have a forward-facing window.
“This is a moment that future generations will look back on with both awe and admiration,” said Greg Ulmer, vice president of aviation at Lockheed Martin. “Skunk Works' motto of fast, quiet and quality takes on a whole new meaning. We usher in the hopes of a new era of quiet supersonic travel, made possible through our collaboration with NASA.”
in the pictures: Chuck Yeager: The first person to break the sound barrier
During the unveiling ceremony, NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Milroy emphasized the agency's long history of pioneering aviation development.
“The first A in NASA stands for aviation,” Milroy said. “We are all about pioneering innovation in aviation.” “The X-59 proudly continues this legacy, representing the forefront of technology that moves aviation forward.”
NASA's latest X-plane (“X” for “experimental”) is the culmination of decades of research and involved radically different manufacturing methods including new augmented reality systems, robotic engraving, and 3D modeling techniques.
“This is not just an airplane, this is an X-plane,” Milroy added. “It's a manifestation of collaborative genius.”
But Milroy admitted she had some initial doubts about the revolutionary plane. “As a test pilot, the first time I looked at the design, I said, 'Okay, I had some questions about that.'
In particular, Milroy 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 produced by the plane. Instead, it features what NASA calls the Outside View System, or XVS, which consists of a camera and display mounted in the cockpit that provides pilots with an augmented reality view of what's in front of the plane.
Milroy said this system has the potential to revolutionize aircraft design.
“We didn't feel comfortable putting a manned flying vehicle on the ground without testing it first. So this pioneering technology is truly a beacon that points us toward a future where vision barriers in aircraft design can be overcome with this innovative solution.”
NASA leadership used the revelation to underscore the roles that both the agency and the Southern California region have played in America's rich history of pushing the frontiers of aviation. “This flight 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 Robert Pierce, associate administrator for NASA's Flight Research Mission Directorate.
NASA Associate Administrator Jim Frye continued that sentiment, noting that the X-59 is just the latest in a long line of NASA X aircraft that have revolutionized aviation throughout the agency's history.
“Even among other “In flight. Once these concepts are proven, they often go to museums. That's really what makes the X-59 different.”
Free was referring to the fact that once the The prosperity it creates.
NASA will then use that data to gain approval for commercial supersonic flights from regulatory agencies such as the Federal Aviation Administration, with the ultimate goal of making aviation more sustainable and enabling faster flight over populated areas.
“The X-59 represents a nearly 100-foot long step forward in a voyage of discovery that began decades ago, a step toward opening the door to sustainable commercial hypersonic flight above Earth,” Pierce added.
Some of the applications for supersonic flight mentioned in today's unveiling include rapid medical response, shorter charging times, and of course, faster travel.
NASA and Lockheed Martin are not the only ones seeking commercial flight at speeds above the sound barrier. Colorado-based Boom Supersonic is developing a supersonic commercial airliner, the XB-1, which the company hopes will be in the air on its maiden flight in 2027.
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