NASA X-59 supersonic jet set to receive bizarre design feature

When it comes to constructing supersonic aircraft, NASA engineers are not shy of opting for with a strange design if it results in a faster plane. In the latest instalment of such feats, NASA's X-59 QueSST has evolved into an ultra slender shape. The NASA aircraft’s shape, however creates a predicament: if the cockpit is metres distant from the X-59’s nose, how can the pilot see out the front to fly the plane?

US space agency NASA has now announced their innovative solution is to use a 4K TV and a couple of cameras.

Rather than a front-facing window, the X-59 will house a high-definition monitor which uses two cameras housed on the aircraft’s exterior, combined with terrain data.

The setup has been dubbed the eXternal Visibility System (XVS) and will show the pilot where he is going.

A new image related by NASA depicts the main cockpit looks a bit like an arch of glass over the plane's tiny wings.

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And a small glass-covered section in front of the cockpit houses the cameras.

The X-59 is part of the Low-Boom Flight Demonstration mission, an initiative with the goal to make sonic booms not so deafeningly loud and violent.

Engineers have been able to go supersonic, meaning faster than the speed of sound, since 1947.

However routine supersonic flight has been banned over land since 1973 because of the resulting loud noise when a plane breaks the sound barrier.

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However engineers now understand that with the right plane shape, the sonic boom can be made muffled.

A NASA statement explained: ”The eXternal Visibility System is one of several innovative solutions to help ensure the X-59's design shape reduces a sonic boom to a gentle thump heard by people on the ground.

"Though not intended to ever carry passengers, the X-59 boom-suppressing technology and community response data could help lift current bans on supersonic flight over land and enable a new generation of quiet supersonic commercial aircraft."

The Low-Boom X-plane will be 29 metres (94ft) long with a nine metre (29.5ft) wingspan.

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Propelled by a single General Electric F414, NASA’s X-59 plane should reach Mach 1.5 or 990 mph (1,590 kmh).

The cockpit, ejection seat and canopy come from a Northrop T-38 and the landing gear from a F-16.

The ground noise is expected to be around 60 dB(A), about 1/1000 as loud as current supersonic aircraft.

This is achieved by using a long, narrow airframe and canards to keep the shock waves from coalescing.

Achieving supersonic flight over land will dramatically reduce travel time in the US or anywhere in the world.

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