NASA has this week confirmed that its first large scale, piloted X-plane in more than three decades is cleared for final assembly. The X-59 has been specifically designed and shaped to reduce the loudness of a sonic boom reaching the ground to that of a gentle thump, if it is heard at all says NASA. But final testing has not yet been finished and the new supersonic jet will be flown above select U.S. communities to generate data from sensors and people on the ground in order to gauge public perception.
Construction of the X-59, under a $247.5 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract, is continuing at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company’s Skunk Works factory in Palmdale, California. NASA explains that the management review, known as Key Decision Point-D (KDP-D), was the last programmatic hurdle for the X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) aircraft to clear before officials meet again in late 2020 to approve the airplane’s first flight in 2021.
“With the completion of KDP-D we’ve shown 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,” said Bob Pearce, NASA’s associate administrator for Aeronautics. For more details jump over to the official NASA website.