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X-59 Gets Its Tail

Back view of the X-59 tail with a red cover over the engine nozzle. The red plug or covering protects the engine by creating a barrier so that foreign objects cannot enter the engine or engine inlet.

NASA’s X-59 sits in support framing while undergoing the installation of its lower empennage, or tail section, at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works in Palmdale, California, in this image from late March 2023.

Once complete, the X-59 aircraft—the centerpiece of NASA’s Quesst mission—is designed to demonstrate the ability to fly supersonic while reducing the loud sonic boom to a quiet sonic thump. The Quesst mission will then fly the X-59 over several U.S. communities to gather data on human responses to the sound generated during supersonic flight and deliver that data set to U.S. and international regulators.

Image Credit: Lockheed Martin