NASA to test ‘quiet’ supersonic flights over Texas

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Lockheed Martin was to collaborate with NASA for this project and now, reports have emerged saying that by November, flight tests will be conducted over a populated region in Texas to test how silent the aircraft turned out to be.

The space agency has announced it will publicly demonstrate its technology near the coastal resort city of Galveston to ensure that its prototype really will be barely audible when it crosses the sound barrier. Boom Technology, an aviation startup, is cited by the Points Guy to be working on a 45- to 55-passenger-seated supersonic plane. The X-59 QueSST could make supersonic flight more economical, provided the experiment over Galveston works.

To test the feasibility of bringing supersonic travel back, NASA will enlist the help of an F/A-18 aircraft to dive in the skies above Galveston, producing both traditional sonic booms and also simulating the quieter booms that NASA hopes to achieve with its experimental X-59 jet. While there are a few companies now working on building aircraft that can cut air travel time further, NASA's approach is to cut out the noise, especially the sonic boom that comes from aircraft that exceed the speed of sound.

NASA's team leader for sonic boom community response research at Langley, Alexandra Loubeau, said, "We never know what everyone has heard".

The shining star to this entire thing is supposed to be Lockheed Martin Aeronautics' X-59 "QueSST", which is created to produce sonic thumps rather than the booming sounds other jet fighters usually give out. There will no instrument for monitoring the noise on their shoulder inside our house.

Part of the Low-Boom Flight Demonstration mission, the X-59 is shaped so that supersonic shockwaves do not coalesce together to create the characteristic sonic booms, which prompted the government to ban supersonic flight over land years ago.

"This is why the F/A-18 is so important to us as a tool", Haering said.

If the tests go as planned, "instead of getting a loud boom-boom, you're going to get at least two quiet thump-thump sounds, if you even hear them at all", Haering said.

The X-59 is scheduled for delivery by the end of 2021. "While construction continues on the X-59, we can use the diving maneuver to generate quiet sonic thumps over a specific area".

In the video below you can hear a traditional sonic boom at the 43-second mark and a sonic thump at the 02:34 mark.