Lockheed Martin Skunk Works Begins Manufacturing X-59 Supersonic Aircraft Parts

Supersonic commercial air travel is taking shape as X-59 QueSST manufacturing begins.

Lockheed Martin engineers are designing, building, and flight testing the Low Boom Flight Demonstrator. The X-59 is scheduled to conduct its first flight in 2021.

Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) Skunk Works in Palmdale, California, is manufacturing the first part for the X-59 Quiet Supersonic  Technology aircraft, a milestone on the journey to bring supersonic commercial air travel  one step closer to reality.

“The start of manufacturing on the project marks a great leap forward for the X-59 and the future of quiet supersonic commercial travel,” says Peter Iosifidis, Low Boom Flight Demonstrator program manager Lockheed Martin Skunk Works.

X-59 is designed to cruise at 55,000 feet at a speed of about 940 miles per hour (mph) and create a sound about as loud as a car door closing, 75 Perceived Level decibel (PLdB), instead of a sonic boom. Noise is of considerable concern, so during its first flight, the aircraft will collect community response data on the acceptability of the quiet sonic boom generated by the aircraft, helping NASA establish an acceptable commercial supersonic noise standard to overturn current regulations banning supersonic travel over land.

Read more on supersonic aircraft and propulsion technologies from SAE International.

“The long, slender design of the aircraft is the key to achieving a low sonic boom,” Iosifidis says. “As we enter into the manufacturing phase, the aircraft structure begins to take shape, bringing us one step closer to enabling supersonic travel for passengers around the world.”

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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..