NASA’s supersonic plane, dubbed the X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) aircraft, could take to the skies as early as 2021
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NASA has unveiled a supersonic plane that’s as fast Concorde, but without the deafening sonic boom.
The plane, dubbed the X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) aircraft, has been cleared for final assembly, and could take to the skies as early as 2021.
Bob Pearce, NASA’s associate administrator for Aeronautics, said: “The project is on schedule, it’s well planned and on track.
“We have everything in place to continue this historic research mission for the nation’s air-traveling public.”
The plane is shaped to reduce the loudness of a sonic boom, meaning as the plane passes over, people on the ground will only hear a ‘gentle thump.’
To test the public perception of this sound out, NASA will fly the plane over select US communities.
These tests will also help regulators establish new rules to enable commercial supersonic air travel over land, according to NASA.
Unsurprisingly, the supersonic plane isn’t exactly cheap to develop.
Construction – which is taking place at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company’s Skunk Works factory in Palmdale, California – is predicted to cost a whopping £188.73 million!
NASA hopes that the plane will be fully built in late 2020, before taking to the skies in 2021.
Craig Nickol, NASA's project manager for the X-59, said: "By about a year from now they should have most of this aircraft assembled and the subassemblies mated together. And a little over a year from now this aircraft should be ready to go into major testing."