NASA’s experimental supersonic jet is ready to show off a red, white and blue color scheme ahead of its maiden flight in which it will quietly break the sound barrier above Earth.
An X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology (Quessst) aircraft moves into the paint hangar at the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works facility in Palmdale, California, on November 14, 2023. The aircraft’s color scheme was changed from green to a white body with sonic sound. Blue underside and red wing accents.
However, the new Patriotic paint job is more than just aesthetic. The paint will help protect the X-59 from moisture and corrosion, and the design also features key safety markings that will aid in ground and flight operations. Once the paintwork is complete, the team behind the experimental aircraft will take final precise weight and shape measurements to refine the X-59’s design.
“We are very excited to reach this step in the mission. When the X-59 rolls out of the hangar with new paint and livery, I anticipate this moment will take my breath away because I will see our vision come to life.” Low-flying demonstration project manager Cathy Bahm He said in a statement. “Next year will be a big year for the X-59, and it will be exciting to finally have the exterior of the aircraft match the incredible mission ahead.”
Related: Watch NASA’s scientific-looking ‘quiet’ supersonic X-59 jet emerge from the hangar (video)
Breaking the sound barrier with a bump, not a boom
The X-59 is designed not only to fly faster than sound, but also to make less noise when it breaks the sound barrier. Instead of making a sonic boom when it hits Mach-1 force, the plane should make a sonic “thump” similar to the sound of a car door closing from a distance.
The aircraft is being built by Lockheed Martin through its Skunk Works advanced aircraft manufacturing facility in Palmdale, California. Once completed, the X-59 will fly over communities in the United States that have not yet been selected, and its operators will then collect data from residents about the noise caused by the aircraft.
The X-59 program, if successful, has the potential to reshape rules that currently prohibit supersonic aircraft from flying over land.
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