Its first flight is expected in 2021.
The first NASA manned experimental aircraft in more than three decades (such vehicles are designated X) has been approved for final assembly and integration of all systems after a serious review of the project at NASA headquarters last week.
The management review, known as Key Decision Point-D (KDP-D), was the last barrier before starting the build. Now, officials will have to meet at the end of 2020 to approve the first flight of the aircraft in 2021.
The elongated shape of the X-59 was chosen so as to reduce the sound of the shock wave from the aircraft, perceived on the ground, to an acceptable level of 75 dB. When the aircraft is ready, it is used to estimate the noise level using sensors and surveys of residents of areas where test flights will take place. This data will help regulators establish new rules that allow commercial supersonic air transport over land.
The device is being built by Lockheed Martin. The fuselage, wing and plumage will be made separately. The final assembly and integration of aircraft systems, including an innovative viewing system for the cockpit, is scheduled for the end of 2020.