Visualizing Quieter Supersonic Flight

NASA’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology X-plane is designed to fly faster than the speed of sound without producing sonic booms – those loud, startling noises which can be disruptive to humans and animals.

Currently, commercial aircraft aren’t allowed to fly faster than the speed of sound over land because of the objectionable sonic booms they cause for those on the ground. This experimental plane will fly at a cruise speed roughly double that of a commercial jet while keeping aircraft noise down to a quiet “sonic thump” – or even no sound at all – as heard on the ground when the plane flies overhead at supersonic speeds.

To be sure the X-59’s design will perform within expected noise limits, NASA is working closely with its contractor, Lockheed Martin, to create a database of computational fluid dynamics simulations to verify the aircraft’s supersonic performance. The database will include simulations for all possible combinations of the settings that a pilot uses to control the aircraft and the flight conditions that may be encountered during flight.

Image Credit: NASA/James C. Jensen
Editor: Yvette Smith