NASA is reportedly planning to conduct trial tests of its quiet supersonic technology using the F/A-18 Hornet aircraft around the coastal city of Galveston in November this year. The tests will be performed to ensure that the prototype is barely audible when it crosses the sound barrier.
Beginning in November, the US space agency will use supersonic F/A-18 Hornet jets over Galveston to mimic the sonic profile of the X-59 QueSST to perform the tests. During those tests, a group of around 500 residents will be asked to document the noise levels on the ground. They will be surveyed for their feedback on what they heard, what they felt while the F/A-18 was flying. Audio sensors assembled around the city will also be used to measure the decibels in numerical values.
NASA will use the same silent and faster-than-sound technology in developing its X-59 QueSST aircraft which has been specifically designed to avoid the sonic booms normally produced by supersonic flights. Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $247.5 million contract to build the highly anticipated X-59 QueSST aircraft.
NASA’s proposed X-59 QueSST aircraft will be 94 feet long with a wingspan of 29.5 feet. The aircraft will have a fully-fueled takeoff weight of 32,300 pounds. It is being designed to fly at a speed of Mach 1.42 or 940 miles per hour, speeding at a cruising altitude of 55,000 feet. The airplane will use a single General Electric F414 engine propeller which is used by F/A-18E/F fighters.
It is believed that people on land will hear a sound no louder than a car door closing when X-59 QueSST flies in the air. The aircraft will be put to test in several cities in the country in late 2022. NASA is hopeful that the X-59 QueSST test flights will open a new market for commercial supersonic air travel in future.