NASA’s released timelapse film shows the merger of “the primary aircraft components” of NASA’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) aircraft.
The X-59, whose design was initially presented to the public in 2019, is slowly shaping as NASA works with Lockheed Martin to develop a plane that may rekindle commercial supersonic flying nearly two decades after the Concorde’s final flight.
The X-59 is currently being built by Lockheed Martin Skunk Works in Palmdale, California. According to the Hack Post, the supersonic jet will be capable of traveling at Mach 1.4, or 1488 km/h (925 mph) once built.
When the aircraft goes beyond the sound speed at 1,235 km/h (767 mph), the X-59 is equipped with a narrow 30-foot-long nose that reduces the sound of the sonic boom. It should be able to attain supersonic speeds shortly after takeoff as a result of this. On the other hand, the Concorde had to fly slower over populous areas due to its massive sonic boom.
CNBC said the space agency granted Lockheed Martin a $247.5 million contract to develop the X-59. The firm plans to complete the supersonic jet’s construction this year before beginning the test flying phase in 2022. According to Inceptive Mind, the final aircraft’s size will be 94 feet long with a 29.5-foot wingspan. It will have a maximum weight of 14,700 kilograms (32,300 pounds) and be capable of Mach 1.5 speeds (990 mph).
NASA’s deputy project manager for technology for the Low Boom Flight Demonstrator project, David Richwine, told Space.com the amplitude of the airplane’s sound wave is probably five to eight times smaller than the Concorde’s.
He went on to say that they’re attempting to create a lot milder, lower amplitude shock wave on the plane, as well as a longer rise time for that shock wave so that the sound waves don’t collide and cause the deafening boom seen on present supersonic flights.
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The brief video clip embedded below this page shows the various pieces of the X-59’s fuselage and wings being pieced together. Jay Brandon, NASA’s Low Boom Flight Demonstrator (LBFD) project lead engineer, said in an AeroMag report they have gone from a collection of individual pieces hanging around on different factory floor areas to an airplane. According to a commentary on the NASA blog article, the video’s manufacturing process “marks the first time the X-59 resembles an actual aircraft.”
NASA said the project’s experts utilized laser projections to swiftly confirm that pre-drilled pieces were properly fitted during assembly. Lockheed Martin’s program director David Richardson said in a NASA blog post the widespread use of features and pre-drilled, full-size fastener holes has greatly decreased the time it takes to identify and fit components. He said they utilized the laser tracker to ensure that everything was aligned to technical specifications before securely bolting everything together.
SciTechDaily said the X-59, the project’s visual showpiece, certainly adds to the wow aspect. Still, it’s the data portion of NASA’s mission, the nerdy half, that will revolutionize fast air travel over land.
NASA’s silent supersonic mission entails constructing the X-59 and the performance of initial flight tests beginning in 2022.
The space agency plans to test the X-59 on the test range at the Armstrong Flight Research Center in California in 2023 to see whether it can create a quieter sonic thump and is fit to travel in the National Airspace System. The sound from the X-59 will be measured by over 175 ground recording devices.
NASA plans to fly the X-59 over numerous cities throughout the country in 2024 to see how people react to the aircraft’s sonic thump sound – if they hear anything at all. The International Civil Aviation Organization and the Federal Aviation Administration will then review the information. They will decide whether or not to change the current prohibitions on supersonic flying over land.
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