NASA’s QueSST assembly nearing completion, flight scheduled for 2023

NASA has nearly completed assembly of the X-59 silent supersonic technology demonstrator, aiming to make its maiden flight in 2023.

The airplane engine was installed in early November 2022, according to NASA press Release, and the rest of the assembly is almost complete.

Ground tests are to follow, before the first flight in 2023.

The X-59 was equipped with the F414-GE-100 turbojet, a customized version of the the General Electric F414 used on many fighter aircraft such as the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, the Saab JAS 39 Gripen, the KAI KF-21 Boramae among others.

The cell, which was delivered to Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works assembly plant in California in December 2021, has already undergone ground testing.

Aircraft manufacturing started in 2018the X-59 should then fly in 2021. The result of a collaboration between NASA and Lockheed Martin, the aircraft is intended to demonstrate and test the possibility of minimizing the shock wave resulting from breaking the sound barrier.

The shock wave, called sonic boom, is the main reason for banning supersonic flights in many countries and a major limiting factor for supersonic civil aviation.

According to NASA, the X-59 would first undergo testing at a test range at the Armstrong Flight Research Center and could start flying over major population centers in 2024.

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