|Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator|
|Role||Experimental supersonic aircraft|
|Built by||Lockheed Martin|
|First flight||planned summer 2021|
The Lockheed Martin X-59 QueSST ("Quiet Supersonic Transport") is an American experimental supersonic aircraft being developed for NASA's Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator program. Preliminary design started in February 2016, with the X-59 scheduled for delivery in late 2021 for flight tests from 2022. It should cruise at Mach 1.42 (1,510 km/h) and 55,000 ft (16,800 m), creating a low 75 Perceived Level decibel (PLdB) thump to evaluate supersonic transport acceptability.
In February 2016, Lockheed Martin was awarded a preliminary design contract, aiming to fly in the 2020 timeframe. A 9% scale model was to be wind tunnel tested from Mach 0.3 to Mach 1.6 between February and April 2017. The Preliminary design review was to be completed by June 2017.
On April 2, 2018, NASA awarded Lockheed Martin a $247.5 million contract to design, build and deliver in late 2021 the Low-Boom X-plane. NASA will then flight test it to verify its safety and performance, and to prove the quiet supersonic technology from mid-2022 over U.S. cities to evaluate community responses for regulators, which could enable commercial supersonic travel.
While NASA received three inquiries for its August 2017 request for proposals, Lockheed was the sole bidder. The critical design review is planned for September 2019 and the first flight in the summer of 2021. After flight-clearance testing at the Armstrong Flight Research Center, an acoustic validation will include air-to-air Schlieren imaging backlit by the Sun to confirm the shockwave pattern until September 2022. Community-response flight tests in 2023-25 will be used for ICAO's Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection meeting (CAEP13) establishing a sonic boom standard in 2025.
The ground noise is expected to be around 60 dB(A), about 1/1000 as loud as current supersonic aircraft. This is achieved by using a long, narrow airframe and canards to keep the shock waves from coalescing. The long and pointed nose-cone will obstruct all forward vision. The X-59 will use an enhanced flight vision system, consisting of a forward 4K camera with a 33° by 19° angle of view, which will compensate for the lack of forward visibility.
The Low-Boom X-plane will be 94 ft (29 m) long with a 29.5 ft (9.0 m) wingspan for a max takeoff weight of 32,300 lb (14,700 kg). Propelled by a single General Electric F414, it should reach Mach 1.5 or 990 mph (1,590 km/h), and cruise at Mach 1.42 or 940 mph (1,510 km/h) at 55,000 ft (16,800 m). It should create a 75 Perceived Level decibel (PLdB) thump on ground, as loud as closing a car door, compared with 105-110 PLdB for the Concorde. The cockpit, ejection seat and canopy come from a Northrop T-38 and the landing gear from a F-16. A Its engine will provide 22,000 lbf (98 kN) of thrust.
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