NASA’s experimental supersonic jet, the X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology (Quesst), is set to make its first flight in style with a patriotic new paint job. The jet, which aims to break the sound barrier over Earth with minimal noise, recently moved to the paint barn at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works’ facility in Palmdale, California. Its color scheme was changed from green to a white body with a sonic blue underside and red wing accents.
The new paint job not only enhances the aesthetics of the X-59 but also serves practical purposes. It helps protect the aircraft from moisture and corrosion, and it features safety markings that assist with ground and flight operations. Following the completion of the paintwork, the team will conduct precise weight and shape measurements to improve the modeling of the X-59.
Cathy Bahm, the Low Boom flight demonstrator project manager, expressed her excitement about this milestone, stating, “We are incredibly excited to reach this step in the mission. When the X-59 emerges from the paint barn with fresh paint and livery, I expect the moment to take my breath away because I’ll see our vision coming to life. The year ahead will be a big one for the X-59, and it will be thrilling for the outside of the aircraft to finally match the spectacular mission ahead.”
The X-59 is not just an ordinary supersonic jet. It is designed to make less noise when breaking the sound barrier. Instead of a sonic boom, it produces a sonic “thump,” similar to the sound of a distant car door slamming. This feature aims to minimize the disturbance caused by supersonic flights.
Lockheed Martin is responsible for building the X-59 through its Skunk Works advanced aircraft manufacturing facility. Once completed, the jet will fly over selected communities in the U.S., collecting data on the noise impact of supersonic flight on the population. The success of the X-59 program could potentially lead to changes in regulations that currently restrict supersonic flight over land.
The X-59’s journey towards revolutionizing supersonic travel is well underway, and its new red, white, and blue color scheme signifies the significant progress being made.