NASA confirmed this week that its first large scale X-plane is cleared for final assembly. The X-59 has been specially designed and developed to reduce the sonic boom noise and will be heard as a gentle thump, if it is heard at all says NASA. But final testing has not yet been completed and the new supersonic jet will be operated above select U.S. communities to create data from sensors and people on the ground in order to gauge public opinion.
X-59 will cost about $247.5 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contracts, is advancing at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company’s Skunk Works factory in Palmdale, California. NASA also said that the management review, known as Key Decision Point-D (KDP-D), was the last programmatic difficulty for the X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) aircraft to clear before officials meet again in late 2020 to allow the airplane’s first flight in 2021.
“With the completion of KDP-D we’ve shown the project is on schedule, it’s well planned and on track. We have everything in place to continue this historic research mission for the nation’s air-traveling public,” said Bob Pearce, NASA’s associate administrator for Aeronautics.