Lockheed Martin Skunk Works X-59 Supersonic Aircraft

It has always been mankind’s dream to shave travel time. Humankind achieved that at some point but the sonic boom created by the Concorde proved too much when it flew over land. That, and safety-related issues – among others – ended supersonic travel.

Lockheed Martin Skunk Works X-59 Supersonic Aircraft

The good news is that supersonic travel is just taking a break. Several companies are working to make supersonic flight feasible again and they include Spike Aerospace, Boom Supersonic, Exosonic, and recently Lockheed Martin and NASA unveiled their take for the future of supersonic flight, the X-59 QueSST.

Lockheed Martin Skunk Works and NASA celebrated the rollout of the X-59, an experimental aircraft designed to minimize the sonic boom to a “gentle thump,” marking a significant advancement in supersonic flight technology. The X-59 has a cruising height of 55,000 feet, flies at Mach 1.4 (925 mph or 1,489 km/h), and creates 75 PLdB of sound that is about as loud as a car door closing.

Lockheed Martin Skunk Works X-59 Supersonic Aircraft

This achievement is a key moment in their collaborative effort to make quiet supersonic travel over land a reality, potentially halving current commercial flight times. Aesthetically, the aircraft has an extremely long nose and a cockpit that is inside the fuselage.

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Obviously, it will not be looking like that if it is to be adapted as a commercial jet. But it will provide the blueprint to unlock the secret of a quiet sonic boom.

The X-59 will undergo ground, engine run, and taxi tests ahead of its inaugural flight scheduled for later this year, followed by acoustic testing over populated areas to gather data for regulatory approval of new supersonic flight rules. This project represents a major step forward in transforming global travel.

Images: Gerry Tice & Michael Jackson/Lockheed Martin.