NASA developed an experimental supersonic airplane designed to revive commercial supersonic flights. Now, a couple of months after the $247 million plane contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin, the aircraft finally got an official name – X-59 QueSST.
According to NASA, the biggest obstacle for commercial supersonic flights would be the sonic boom, but the US space agency assured everyone that “lowering sonic booms to a low rumble” is possible. Also, a supersonic plane would make possible the trip from East Coast to West Coast in about 2 hours.
On June 26th, the US Air Force asked NASA to use an “X-number” designation for the aircraft in respect for the traditional name for the experimental planes of the 40s.
“[X designation] continues a tradition of naming important experimental aircraft and rockets that dates back to 1947 and the X-1,” reported the US space agency.
NASA’s airplane for commercial supersonic flights got the name of X-59 QueSST
“For everyone working on this important project, this is great news, and we’re thrilled with the designation. I’m confident that the contributions the X-59 QueSST will make to our nation and the world will ensure its place among the greatest NASA X-planes ever flown,” affirmed Jaiwon Shin from NASA.
Currently, the supersonic aircraft is under construction at the Lockheed Martin facility in California, and once it’s development is done, and the National Airspace dubs it as “safe,” NASA will commence commercial supersonic flights in 2022.
The plane, which measures 30 meters long, 9 meters wide, and about 15 tons in weight, will fly at 17 kilometers above the surface of the Earth at a top speed of 1,600 km/h (about 990 mph).
Commonly, supersonic flights are not any longer allowed over the land, but NASA hopes the upcoming X-59 QueSST will force the authorities to rethink the current standards, as the sonic boom issue will be addressed.
“This [X-59 QueSST] plane would open a new market for US companies to build faster commercial airliners, creating jobs and cutting cross-country flight times in half,” stated the budget report for the fiscal year 2019.