When Top Gun: Maverick came out in 2022, it was filled with action-packed scenes that left people on the edge of their seats. There were extreme aerial maneuvers, dogfights, and so much more which boosted interest in fighter jets and experimental aircraft. NASA is now adding fuel to the fire by unveiling the X-59 — an experimental model with a fascinating capability.
One look at the aggressive aerodynamic outline of this prototype and it just screams supersonic speeds. Although it is not as awesome as the SR-72 Darkstar piloted by Tom Cruise in the film, this bad boy here is the real deal. Yes, Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works division was involved in the design of the aforementioned fictional aircraft, but its latest collaboration with NASA exists in real life.
The X-59 is confirmed to be capable of breaking the sound barrier, but so can other fighters used by armed forces across the globe. However, what it brings to the table has never been achieved before. According to NASA, the unique shape allows the jet to reduce the noise levels of the sonic boom once it reaches a flight speed of 925 mph.
Instead of a deafening shockwave, it purportedly produces a less intrusive thump. What makes this possible is the larger than usual not measuring approximately 38 feet. The X-59 measures around 99 feet and seven inches. This odd proportion spaces out the shockwaves created during supersonic speeds to prevent the accompanying sonic boom.
Both NASA and Lockheed Martin did not hint at any potential for military use but positioned the X-59 as crucial for the future of commercial air travel. Ever since the Concorde halted operations, we were curious if the aviation industry still has plans for a new platform that provides a similar service. So far, test pilots have only flown it in simulators, but test flights are slated for later this year.