The X-59 is NASA’s first piloted experimental aircraft in decades will fly faster than the speed of sound over land. The SST will feature innovative technology to reduce loud sonic booms to a quiet thump.
A quiet supersonic aircraft will test the technology to fly faster, quieter, and more efficiently. The data gathered from the X-59 will pave the way for commercial supersonic flight over land.
Lockheed Martin was awarded the design contract in 2016 and then the contract to build in 2018. The aircraft was halfway completed in December 2020 and the plan for completion is for 2022.
The long nose will obstruct all forward vision. It will use an enhanced flight vision system (EVS – near-infrared cameras, millimeter wave radar – which has been used by the military and business flights for years)
High speed wind tunnel tests are performed with a 9.5% model. The Low-Boom X-plane will be 94 ft long with a 29.5 ft wingspan for a max takeoff weight of 32,300 lb. Propelled by a single General Electric F414, it should reach Mach 1.5 or 990 mph, and cruise at Mach 1.42 or 940 mph at 55,000 ft. The cockpit, ejection seat and canopy come from a Northrop T-38 and the landing gear from an F-16.
The ground noise will be about 1/1000th as loud as current supersonic aircraft at 60 decibels. this is achieved by the long narrow airframe and canards to keep the shock waves from coalescing. It should create a 75 Perceived Level decibel (PLdB) thump on ground, as loud as closing a car door, compared with 105-110 PLdB for the Concorde.