NASA's X-59: Concorde 2.0?

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Image: Lockheed Martin
Concorde's legacy is beginning to take shape and is a sight to behold. X-59, an experimental aircraft being assembled at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works in California, promises to pierce the sky with barely an audible thump, if any at all. Back in 2018, NASA authorized the production of a Low Boom Flight Demonstrator (LBFD) capable of flying at supersonic speeds over populated areas without shattering windows and making babies cry.

The Advanced Air Vehicles Program and the Integrated Aviation Systems Program, run by the national space agency, is looking to streamline and modernize the future of aviation by designing and testing proof-of-concept vehicles that will make ultrasonic commercial air travel over land a reality. With the X-59, the agency hopes to gauge the public's response to speedy aircraft and their potential disruptive atmospheric effects.

If everything goes according to plan, the X-59 will take to the skies sometime in 2022 for preliminary testing before engaging in supersonic flight over selected cities across the US. Data collected from these test flights will be turned over to the Federal Aviation Administration, which is expected to reconsider lifting the existing ban on continental supersonic flight imposed in 1973.