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NASA’s X-59 plane promises to bring back the days of supersonic flight, and reports show that it’s almost here.
Humanity’s desire for supersonic travel has been facing a hurdle- the US blanket ban on supersonic travel over cities, which the X-59 wants to overturn. The ban was put in place after an incident that occurred in 1968, when an F-105 Thunderchief flew over a school in Colorado at supersonic speeds, blew out 200 windows and injured a dozen people. Supersonic technology was still in its infancy at the time, and researchers could not work out solutions that could dampen the impact of the sonic booms in time.
NASA dreams of a supersonic aircraft able to fly people from London to New York in 90 minutes, but for that to happen the flight has to be faster than sound for maximum duration and not just above the North Atlantic Ocean.
The space agency believes that the X-59 could overturn the ban.
According to Interesting Engineering, the X-59 is the prototype aircraft to demonstrate NASA’s Quiet SuperSonic Technology (QueSST). The aircraft is 29 meters in length and has a wingspan of nearly 9 meters, and it is designed to demonstrate that sonic booms can be dampened from loud bangs to milder thumps.
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The X-59’s perceived level decibels (PLdB) are being targeted at 75 dB- louder than a regular conversation but less than a motorcycle engine.
The aircraft was moved to Lockheed Martin’s paint barn last week, where it is expected to receive a white body with a “sonic blue” underside and red accents on the wings. The painting is not just “for show”, but is rather designed to protect the aircraft from moisture and corrosion.
Cathy Bahm, project manager for the X-59, stated in a press release that the year ahead will be a big one for the X-59, and that “it will be thrilling for the outside of the aircraft to finally match the spectacular mission ahead.”