NASA’s new supersonic jet will fly you from New York and land in London by the time the passengers would have finished watching Oppenheimer. The supersonic jet will fly so fast that it can’t even have a windshield.

This ultra-sleek aircraft developed by NASA and Lockheed Martin represents a significant step towards reintroducing supersonic civilian air travel. Called the X-59, this one-of-a-kind experimental aircraft was revealed to the public in a joint ceremony in Palmdale, California, on Friday. Shaped like a stretched-out arrowhead, the X-59 has been under development at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works for several years and has been funded by NASA since 2018. “In just a few short years we’ve gone from an ambitious concept to reality. NASA’s X-59 will help change the way we travel, bringing us closer together in much less time,” said Pam Melroy, NASA deputy administrator, in a press release.

Source – Screengrab / NASA

Measuring 30.4 meters in length and slightly less than 9 meters in width, the “quiet supersonic” aircraft is expected to fly at 1.4 times the speed of sound (925mph) without generating an explosive sonic boom. Its unique shape, comprising of a thin, tapered nose that measures nearly a third of the aircraft’s full length, helps in dispersing sonic-boom-causing shock waves that would typically surround supersonic aircraft. The engineers working on the aircraft claim the design will reduce the boom into a “sonic thump” that won’t have destructive effects.

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Source – NASA

Another interesting design feature of the X-59 is the placement of the cockpit, which is located nearly at the center of the aircraft. You’ll notice that the supersonic jet doesn’t even have forward-facing windows. Instead, the X-59 has a high-resolution camera system and a screen inside the cockpit for the pilots to operate the aircraft. “[With the] huge challenge [of] limited visibility in the cockpit, the team developed the external vision system, which really is a marvel of high-resolution cameras feeding an ultra-high-resolution monitor,” Melroy claimed.

In spite of going at 1.5 times the speed of sound the X-59 will not produce the dreaded sonic boom. Source – NASA

Commercial supersonic travel over land has been banned in the US for over five decades. “By demonstrating the possibility of quiet commercial supersonic travel over land, we seek to open new commercial markets for U.S. companies and benefit travelers around the world,” said NASA’s Bob Pearce. The X-59 is expected to fly for the first time later this year, followed by its first quiet supersonic flight. NASA said the X-59 will fly over several cities across the US after completing its test flights to collect public feedback on the sound it generates.

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Source – NASA

According to Pearce, the agency will “collect data from the people below, determine if that sonic thump is acceptable and then turn the data over to US and international regulatory authorities in hopes to then lift that ban.” The X-59 is an experimental aircraft that might help shape the future of civilian air travel and also military jets.

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Sayan Chakravarty, a Senior Writer at Luxurylaunches, brings over 10 years of automotive journalism expertise. He provides insightful coverage of the latest cars and motorcycles across American and European markets, while also highlighting luxury yachts, high-end watches, and gadgets. An authentic automobile aficionado, his commitment shines through in educating readers about the automotive world. When the keyboard rests, Sayan feeds his wanderlust, traversing the world on his motorcycle.