Lockheed Martin officially introduced its experimental X-59 plane with NASA late last week.
The supersonic aircraft, which debuted Friday at a joint event in California, was built to produce a “quieter sonic thump” comparable to the closing of a car door as opposed to a sonic boom as it surpasses the speed of sound to reach up to Mach 1.4, the company and NASA said.
FOX Weather had earlier reported on Lockheed Martin and NASA’s plans to unveil the over 99-feet-long aircraft that has a 29-foot wing-span.
“The entire X-59 team leaned into the expertise of both legendary organizations, NASA and Lockheed Martin, to ensure success for this program. I am extremely proud of everyone who made this historic moment possible,” Lockheed Martin executive Greg Ulmer said.
The Lockheed Martin-built X-59 needs to next undergo integrated systems, engine runs and taxi testing before it can take its first flight, the company and NASA said. They are targeting later in 2024 for that.
The plane, once flight-tested, will begin supersonic flights above “populated areas” in the U.S. to “provide the U.S. and international regulators with statistically valid data required to help approve new rules that could allow quiet commercial supersonic flight over land,” according to Lockheed Martin.
NASA official Bob Pearce said NASA “seek[s] to open new commercial markets for U.S. companies and benefit travelers around the world” through “demonstrating the possibility of quiet commercial super sonic travel over land” with X-59.
It will use NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in southern California as its home base, per NASA.
Lockheed Martin and its Skunk Works unit has worked on the X-59 project for years, scoring a $247.5 million NASA contract to bring it to life and test it back in 2018, as previously reported by FOX Business.
The Maryland-based company builds both commercial and military aircraft.
In October, Lockheed Martin said it had generated nearly $48.7 billion in net sales over the course of the first three quarters of 2023, marking a 3.6% increase compared to the same period in the prior year. Its net earnings for the first nine months of the year were $5.05 billion.