With the design and construction of X-59, NASA and aeronautics and defense company Lockheed Martin hope to make supersonic travel much kinder on the ears. It will fly almost as fast as its lookalike, with a cruising speed of Mach 1.42 (1,754 kmph) at an altitude of 55,000 feet and yet produce a sonic boom of only 75 Perceived Level decibel (PLdB) - about as loud as a auto door closing.
One of the reasons the Concorde failed was partly because the sonic boom it created when it broke the sound barrier caused distress among livestock and minor damages to buildings.
It's the first time in 30 years that they have announced a piloted, large-scale aircraft and it has now been cleared for final assembly and "integration of its systems".
Instead of a sharp double knock that can break windows and damage structures, a listener on the ground should hear a noise no louder than the knock on a vehicle door (NASA calls it a "sonic knock"). Results will also be used to help establish rules for commercial supersonic air travel over land.
Construction of the X-59, under a United States dollars 247.5 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract, is continuing at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company´s Skunk Works factory in Palmdale, California.
Work began a year ago on the plane at Lockheed's Skunk Works in California, and final assembly and integration of the plane's systems are now scheduled for late 2020.
It was the last hurdle in the X-59 development and construction program before it seeks approval for first flight, now scheduled in 2021, which the officials will decide upon when they meet again in late 2020.
"With the completion of KDP-D we've shown the project is on schedule, it's well planned and on track".
'We bear everything in residing to continue this historic compare mission for the nation's air-travelling public'.