Tail Installed On NASA X-59 Supersonic Demonstrator


NASA has announced that the final installation of the tail assembly on its X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) research aircraft is complete. The work took place at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works in Palmdale, California, where the aircraft returned a year ago following a series of tests in Fort Worth, Texas. The X-59 is expected to fly for the first time later this year.

“This installation allows the team to continue final wiring and system checkouts on the aircraft as it prepares for integrated ground testing, which will include engine runs and taxi tests,” NASA said. “Once complete, the X-59 aircraft is designed to demonstrate the ability to fly supersonic while reducing the loud sonic boom to a quiet sonic thump.”

NASA hopes to use the X-59 to gather data that will help regulators write and adopt new rules regarding commercial supersonic flight over land. The QueSST program is also looking to document human responses to the X-59’s “quiet sonic thump” with a series of flights over U.S. cities slated to begin in 2025. The aircraft will reportedly be capable of travelling at a top speed of Mach 1.4 and reaching altitudes of up to 55,000 feet.

Video: NASA
Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. That grain shute exhaust extension is interesting — bet that once the motors turn on it quickly looks either orange-hot or burnt. Wonder which farm they lifted it from?
    Presumably it is to try and direct the bang of supersonic air from the engine away from the earth.

  2. “NASA hopes to….help regulators write and adopt new rules regarding commercial supersonic flight over land.”

    Waste (Verb)
    a) To spend or use carelessly : squander
    b) A multi-year government/industry program to help rule makers pen new rules for nonexistent aircraft

  3. Does your posting reflect a selfish opinion that you have no expectation of benefiting from supersonic air travel, or a foolish opinion that it’s better to wait until technology has arrived and wreaking havok to start writing regulations concerning its use?

    • Sure it’s an opinion; but it’s an opinion based in real world observations. It reflect the both the past (SST’s never made money) and the present (airlines gradually slowing flights to save fuel). As a reasonable person I do not hinge my opinions on “some undiscovered new technology” or “future airlines will put technology over profit”.