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X-59 QueSST

Activity Summary

Status: Active

In collaboration between all four NASA flight research centers and Lockheed Martin, the X-59 QueSST is set to become the first low-boom supersonic plane.

Stemming from low-boom flight research that had its roots in ASAB for decades, NASA Langley and SACD has been instrumental in the development of the X-59. The ASAB supersonics team has been involved in the development of both the low boom shaping tools and methods being used to design the X-59 aircraft as well as having the lead role in the various concept studies conducted over the past few years that lead to the award of the X-59 contract with Lockheed Martin. This ASAB lead research was instrumental in establishing the confidence needed in the design to secure Agency support for this manned X-plane.

The FAA currently prohibits supersonic flight over land due to the loud boom caused by the shockwaves produced when the vehicle flies faster than sound. The engineers of ASAB, other NASA centers, and Lockheed have designed X-59 to divert the shockwaves, softening the boom. Instead, only a light thump would reach civilians below.

The first flights above civilians will occur in early 2023. Select communities will assess the noise level caused by the X-59 QueSST flying overhead. Then the results of this community testing will be presented to the FAA and ICAO in the hopes of changing regulation prohibiting supersonic flight over land.

X-59 QueSST will seat one pilot in its 94-foot body, cruising at 55,000 feet at Mach 1.4 (940mph). ASAB is also developing low-boom supersonic passenger jet concepts, guiding the future of aviation by bringing commercial supersonic flight into reality.