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Image: NASA

NASA accelerates ‘quiet supersonic’ project

NASA’s ‘quiet supersonic’ technology project passes a funding milestone – making the futuristic realistic.

NASA says it is “officially committed” to a development timeline that will lead to the first flight of its X-59 Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) aircraft within three years.

The US aeronautics giant confirmed its continued support for the X-59 in terms of funding and set an achievable development timeline for the first piloted full-size X-plane.

A new “rigorous review” of the programme, which NASA calls KDP-C, commits the agency to full development effort up to flight testing in 2021.

The cost and schedule commitments outlined in the review align the project with management best practices that account for any potential technical risks and budgetary uncertainty that are beyond the project’s control.

“This aircraft has the potential to transform aviation in the United States and around the world by making faster-than-sound air travel over land possible for everyone,” enthused NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine. “We can’t wait to see this bird fly!”

Boom to thump
The X-59 is shaped to reduce the loudness of a sonic boom to that of a “gentle thump”, if it’s heard at all, NASA claims.

The supersonic aircraft will be flown above a number of communities in the US to measure public perception of the noise – data that will help regulators establish new rules for commercial supersonic air travel over land.

Management of the development of the X-59 QueSST technology falls under the Low Boom Flight Demonstrator project, part of the integrated aviation systems programme in NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate.

“This is a monumental milestone for the project,” summarised Jaiwon Shin, NASA’s associate administrator for aeronautics. “I’m extremely proud of the team for its hard work getting to this point, and we all look forward to watching this aircraft take shape and then take flight.”

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