Here’s how to watch NASA’s new superplane roll out of its hangar

New aircraft is part of mission to develop quieter supersonic flight that could one day lead to flights over land

(AP Photo/John Raoux, File) (John Raoux, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

If you’re a fan of incredible high-tech airplanes, then you’ll want to set aside some time on Friday afternoon for a unique unveiling.

At 4 p.m. ET, NASA will roll out an X-59 aircraft that is designed to develop a quieter type of supersonic flight.

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The aircraft will be rolled out of its hangar in Palmdale, California, an occasion that can be seen live on NASA’s website and on YouTube.

The X-59 is a part of NASA’s Quesst mission, which is aiming to produce supersonic flight that goes faster than the speed of sound without generating a loud sonic boom, according to a NASA release.

It’s unclear when the first test flight of the aircraft will be, but it is expected to be sometime this year.

Leaders from NASA and Lockheed Martin, the company that built the aircraft, might shed more details on what the plans are for the aircraft when they speak at the unveiling event.

In 2026, it is expected that the aircraft will be flown over a handful of cities in the U.S., where residents can provide feedback about the disruptiveness of the noise.

Fifty years ago, the United States prohibited commercial supersonic flight over land because of concerns about noise generated by sonic booms.

If ultimately successful, the technology demonstrated by the X-59 could reduce the noise so much that regulators might be able to adjust the ban, basing new rules on noise levels rather than speed.

“The idea of lifting the ban on supersonic flight over land is really exciting,” said Catherine Bahm, manager of NASA’s Low Boom Flight Demonstrator project, in the NASA release.

The aircraft, which will be colored in red, white and blue, was assembled over a roughly 2-year period between May 2019 and June 2021.


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Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.