NASA’s Windshield Free, Crewed Supersonic Jet To Break The Sonic Boom Is Here

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After months of waiting, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) X-59 supersonic test plane was finally revealed at a ceremony held by the plane’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin. Lockheed is one of the most advanced aircraft manufacturers in the world, and its partnership with the world’s leading space agency aims to test a plane with quieter supersonic aircraft that can overcome restrictions on breaking the sound barrier over populated areas. Commercial aviation has been unable to utilize the benefits of supersonic flight despite years having passed since the first commercial supersonic jets flew.

NASA Unveils Supersonic Jet Which Aims To Test Quiet Supersonic Flight Above Populated Areas

The X-59 is one of the most remarkable aircraft you will likely encounter. The most distinctive aspect of the plane is its long nose, which stands out in sharp comparison when compared to even some of the most advanced jets in the world, such as Lockheed’s F-22 since they are essential in ensuring that the air that flows around it behaves differently for a ‘quieter’ sonic boom.

NASA’s Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy did not hold back when describing her latest project. She stressed that the special design is a breakthrough in aviation technology as it can provide engineers with valuable data if, for some reason, a plane has to be flown without a front windshield. She added that it was a deliberate decision by the designers to remove the front window, which was a huge challenge as it limits visibility out of its front. Her comments also hinted that a windowless design was not initially part of the concept, but engineers had to remove it to reduce the sound of a sonic boom.

NASA’s Jim Free agreed with Administrator Melroy as he lauded NASA teams for overcoming challenges during the coronavirus pandemic. He added that entire careers and decades of people’s lives had led to the X-59 being where it is today.

When it comes to speed, the X-59 doesn’t disappoint, just like its design. The aircraft will eventually fly at 1.5 times the speed of sound. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics’ director of government affairs Eric Fox, eloquently described the plane’s specifications during his speech.

Quoting his exact words is necessary:

I weigh 240 pounds. If I were to jump off of this stage, land in a pool, 5 feet back, 7 rows of live human beings would get wet when I cannonball into the water. That is currently aviation as we know it. What the X-59 does is it is a U.S. Olympic diver, that you are going to see in Paris this summer. And when you see that diver going into the water. . . there’s barely a ripple. That’s what it does, when it goes 900 miles an hour across the sky. It will barely make a ripple.

As for its flight, the X-59 is slated to fly later this year. However, its maiden flight won’t be supersonic. NASA will test the plane at Lockheed’s facilities in California, but its final destination will be NASA’s Armstrong facility in the Sunshine State.

Supersonic booms take place because a traditional airplane’s nose creates a cone of air in its flight path, which leads to a loud noise as the cone breaks up. Calling the aircraft a “manifestation of a collaborative genius,” Ms. Melroy explained that the design of the X-59 solves the problem of quieter supersonic flight by preventing the shockwaves from merging behind the aircraft and dispersing them instead. The aircraft’s nose accounts for a third of its 99.7 feet length, and a deck under its nozzle is important for dissipating the shockwaves, explained Administrator Melroy.

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