NASA set to unveil experimental X-59 aircraft aimed at commercial supersonic travel
NASA’s new experimental aircraft will go thump in the night – that’s the plan, anyway. The X-59, set to be unveiled in Palmdale, California, on Friday, is designed to turn the volume down on supersonic travel.
“NASA’s X-59 is a one-of-a-kind experimental aircraft that will demonstrate the ability to fly supersonic while generating a gentle “sonic thump” rather than the normally loud sonic boom,” NASA said in a news release.
The aircraft, a collaboration with, is the centerpiece of NASA’s Quesst mission, with the goal of minimizing cross-country travel time by making supersonic flight over land possible.
The United States banned supersonic travel over land for non-military aircraft in 1973 due to public concern about sonic booms over populated areas. NASA recently studied, which could in theory shuttle passengers from New York City to London in under two hours.
“We’re definitely ready to write a new chapter in the history of supersonic flight, making air travel over land twice as fast, but in a way that is safe, sustainable, and so much quieter than before,” Peter Coen, NASA’s Quesst Mission Integration Manager, said in a statement in April.
The X-59 is scheduled to take flight this year. Once fully operational and tested, NASA plans to fly the aircraft over select U.S. cities in 2026 and gather feedback from the public on the sound it produces.