NASA unveils X-59 plane to test supersonic flight over US cities

The X-59 aircraft

Lockheed Martin Corporation/Garry Tice

An experimental aircraft commissioned by NASA will fly over major US cities at faster than the speed of sound. The purpose of the X-59 plane is to gather evidence that will determine if supersonic commercial aviation over land should be legalised.

Aircraft create a wake of shock waves once they pass the speed of sound. This “sonic boom” is so loud it can startle humans and animals and even shatter windows and set off car alarms. When flying at an altitude of 15,000 metres, the now-retired Concorde would…

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