The Lockheed Martin X-59 QueSST (Quiet Supersonic Transport) is an experimental supersonic aircraft designed to evaluate supersonic passenger transport noise acceptability.
“The start of manufacturing on the project marks a great leap forward for the X-59 and the future of quiet supersonic commercial travel,” said Peter Iosifidis, Low Boom Flight Demonstrator program manager Lockheed Martin Skunk Works.
“The long, slender design of the aircraft is the key to achieving a low sonic boom. As we enter into the manufacturing phase, the aircraft structure begins to take shape, bringing us one step closer to enabling supersonic travel for passengers around the world.”
Earlier this year, NASA selected Lockheed Martin to design, build and flight test the Low Boom Flight Demonstrator. The X-59 will conduct its first flight in 2021.
It will be used to collect community response data on the acceptability of the quiet sonic boom generated by the aircraft, helping NASA establish an acceptable commercial supersonic noise standard to overturn current American regulations banning supersonic travel over land.
X-59 is designed to cruise at 55,000 feet at a speed of about 940 mph and create a sound about as loud as a car door closing, 75 Perceived Level decibel (PLdB), instead of a sonic boom.
The critical design review is planned for September 2019 and the first flight in the summer of 2021. NASA will then flight test it to verify its safety and performance, and to prove the quiet supersonic technology from mid-2022 over U.S. cities to evaluate community responses for regulators, which could enable commercial supersonic travel.