NASA Chooses CoreAVI Vulkan API for X-59 QueSST Supersonic, Low-Boom Aircraft

NASA will use CoreAVI’s VkCore SC to help develop and deploy NASA’s windowless cockpit display system, the eXternal Vision System (XVS), which replaces the pilot’s front window view with leading-edge sensor display technology.

In several years, the X-59 QueSST will test its quiet supersonic technologies by flying over communities in the United States. (Image courtesy NASA.)

Aerospace engineers at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, working on the NASA X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) aircraft in collaboration with Lockheed Martin engineers sought a safety-critical compute application programming interface (API) that supports safety certifications  and powerful graphics and compute  capabilities.

They chose the VkCore SC safety-critical  Vulkan driver from Core Avionics & Industrial Inc. (CoreAVI ) in Tampa, Fla., for deployment into the X-59 supersonic aircraft in concert with the VxWorks 7 real-time operating system (RTOS) from Wind River , a provider of embedded software for intelligent connected systems and part of Intel Corp., in Alameda, Calif.

The X-59 experimental aircraft, part of NASA’s Low-Boom Flight Demonstration mission, will achieve supersonic speeds and significantly reduce the noise generated by a sonic boom. NASA has contracted Lockheed Martin in Bethesda, Md., to build the X-59 supersonic aircraft.

CoreAVI’s VkCore SC is designed for RTCA DO-178C/ED-12C Design Assurance Level (DAL) A certification and available with complete certification evidence, officials say. It offers flexible, powerful graphics and compute capabilities in one driver, and will incorporate CoreAVI’s TrueCore 2.0 Safety Monitor to ensure the health and integrity of the system’s GPU and support the GPU’s certification to the highest DAL levels, they add.

NASA will use CoreAVI’s VkCore SC to help develop and deploy NASA’s windowless cockpit display system, the eXternal Vision System (XVS), which replaces the pilot’s front window view with leading-edge sensor display technology. Vulkan capabilities will help enable advanced synthetic vision, object detection, and various sensor fusion capabilities.

“The X-59 QueSST will represent state-of-the-art technology in supersonic aircraft,” NASA Aerospace Engineer Trey Arthur explains. “Working with CoreAVI gives us an opportunity to build the latest in safety-critical graphics and computing technologies into the X-59.”

“VkCore SC is the future of safety-critical graphics,” says Dan Joncas, executive vice president of sales and marketing at CoreAVI. “CoreAVI is excited to provide NASA and Lockheed Martin with all the graphics and compute tools to enable their eXternal Vision System in this innovative and revolutionary platform.”

"I’m confident that the contributions the X-59 QueSST will make to our nation and the world will ensure its place among the greatest NASA X-planes ever flown,” says Jaiwon Shin, NASA’s associate administrator for aeronautics.

Now under construction by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company at its Skunk Works plant in Palmdale, Calif., the X-59 QueSST is designed so that when flying supersonic, people on the ground will hear nothing more than a sonic thump – if anything at all.

Once fully tested and pronounced safe to fly within the National Airspace, the X-59 in late 2022 will begin making supersonic flights over select communities to measure residents’ reactions to any noise they might hear.

The scientifically valid data gathered from these community overflights will be presented to U.S. and international regulators, who will use the information to help them come up with rules based on noise levels that enable new commercial markets for supersonic flight over land.

Core Avionics & Industrial Inc. (CoreAV"​), a Channel One company, is a global provider of products and services designed to enable complete solutions for safety-critical applications. A supplier of real-time and safety-critical graphics and video drivers, compute drivers, "program-ready"​ embedded graphics processors, and DO-254/ED-80 certifiable commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware intellectual property (IP), CoreAVI’s suite of products enables commercial graphics processing units (GPUs), system on chip (SoC) components, and COTS hardware designs to meet the requirements of long-term, high-reliability and safety-critical embedded systems with long-term support. CoreAVI’s products may be purchased with certification data kits for the most stringent levels of RTCA DO-254/DO-178C and EUROCAE ED-80/ED-12C.

Courtney E. Howard  is editorial director and content strategist at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group. Contact her by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..