NASA’s X-59 supersonic plane will fly over cities to prove it’s silent | Science

The dream of making commercial supersonic flight in the future as common as charter flights to the beach today took a step closer to becoming a reality on Friday. NASA has officially unveiled its experimental X-59 aircraft, which breaks the sound barrier and makes virtually no noise. This achievement eliminates a big problem in using hypersonics in everyday life.

X-59, a collaboration between NASA and the airline Lockheed Martin, scheduled to fly for the first time this year. A vibrant future awaits: As NASA revealed during the awards ceremony, the device will spend several years flying over certain populated areas, gathering information about silent supersonic flight, its effects, and the impact of technology in those communities. Reception data.

The aim is to pave the way for a new generation of commercial flights that can travel faster than the speed of sound and cut route durations in half: flying from New York to London in just three hours, for example.

Artistic reproduction of the X-59 (

“In just a few years, we went from an ambitious concept to a reality.” NASA in California.

The artifact looks like a futuristic, minimalist vision of a plane and an arrow fused together. It is 30 meters long and 9 meters wide. One-third of the fuselage is made up of the nose, which is long and thin, like a stork’s beak. As Melroy explains, it prevents the build-up of sound waves that can cause the characteristic roar of supersonic aviation. Instead, the plane’s flight will produce only a “whisper,” he assured. Or, at best, the sound of a car door closing, according to space agency engineers.

Every element of its unique design has been carefully considered to minimize noise. From the relatively compact wings to the cockpit in the middle of the fuselage with no front windows. Pilots are guided by images provided by high-definition and augmented reality cameras mounted in the fuselage and displayed on high-definition monitors in the cabin. The sole engine is placed on the top of the boat to prevent sound waves from accumulating underneath the unit and creating noise. The aircraft is capable of flying at 1.4 times the speed of sound, or 1,485 kilometers per hour.

The X-59 is part of NASA’s Quest program, which aims to collect data that will allow aviation regulators to lift a half-century ban on commercial supersonic flights over land. This veto by the United States and other countries was due to the inconvenience caused to the public by the loud noise that crossed the sound barrier.

Bob Pierce, associate administrator for aeronautics research at NASA headquarters in Washington, said NASA “will share the data and technology gained from this mission with regulators and industry” as the test flights continue for several years. To do this, it will fly over cities across the United States to collect data from communities to learn what they think of the device. “By demonstrating that silent commercial supersonic flight is possible, we seek to open new commercial markets for U.S. companies and benefit travelers around the world,” he added.

After the aircraft launches, NASA will now focus on preparations for the first flight, including testing the engine and its integrated systems. After the first takeoff and landing, the next step will be to complete supersonic flight.

But despite this new step, the dream of commercial hypersonic flight remains a long way off. According to NASA, in order to make these plans feasible, it will be necessary to improve fuel consumption efficiency or reduce emissions, among other aspects. “It has to be sustainable,” the space agency cautions.

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