NASA's experimental X-59 jet, which could make supersonic commercial travel a reality, has been cleared for final assembly. The X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) aircraft, designed by Lockheed Martin, could take its first flight as soon as 2021.
This is NASA's first large-scale, piloted x-plane (or experimental aircraft) in more than three decades, and its goal is to reduce the loudness of a sonic boom to more of a sonic thump. When the long, slender jet transitions to supersonic speed, it will make about as much noise a car door closing, and since it will be flying 940 MPH at 55,000 feet, that could be essentially inaudible.
NASA will test the X-59 over select US communities to gather feedback, as it has done with the F/A-18 Hornet aircraft over Galveston, Texas. Those tests will help establish new rules for commercial supersonic air travel over land.