Supersonic jets are better than ordinary planes in almost every way except one: their sound. The boom such planes make when they break the sound barrier is one reason they stopped being used in commercial travel with the retirement of the Concorde 20 years ago. But Lockheed Martin’s X-59 supersonic jet, which can reach mach 1.4 (925 mph), tamps down the noise thanks to its slender silhouette and woodpecker-like nose cone – all designed alongside NASA. People on the ground will perceive the 99-foot-long jet’s sonic boom at around the same level as a car door closing. The X-59’s first test flight is expected in 2024.
Correction, Oct. 25
The original version of this story misstated when the first flight is planned to take place. It is planned for 2024, not 2023.
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