NASA’s Quest Mission: Expanding supersonic flight

The goal of NASA’s Quest mission is to expand supersonic flight and provide regulators with data to provide regulators with data to help change existing national and international aviation rules that ban commercial supersonic flight over land. Central to the mission is NASA’s quiet supersonic X-59 aircraft , which is designed to produce a gentle thump instead of a sonic boom.

Here is an overview of the Quest Mission, as explained by NASA:

“NASA’s aeronautical innovators are leading a government-industry team to collect data that could make supersonic flight over land possible, dramatically reducing travel time in the United States or anywhere in the world.”

“The Quest mission has two goals: 1) design and build NASA’s X-59 research aircraft with technology that reduces the loudness of a sonic boom to a gentle thump to people on the ground; and 2) fly the X-59 over select US communities to gather data on human responses to the sound generated during supersonic flight and deliver that data set to US and international regulators.”


“Using this data, new sound-based rules regarding supersonic flight over land can be written and adopted, which would open the doors to new commercial cargo and passenger markets to provide faster-than-sound air travel.”

“Elements of NASA’s Quest mission are organized within two of the agency’s aeronautics programs — the Advanced Air Vehicles Program and the Integrated Aviation Systems Program — and managed by a systems project office whose members span both programs and all four of NASA’s aeronautical research field. centers: Langley Research Center in Virginia; Glenn Research Center in Cleveland; and Ames Research Center and Armstrong Flight Research Center, which are both located in California.”

Here is an overview of the Quest Mission timeline, as explained by NASA:

“To achieve its mission goals, NASA has laid out Quesst in three phases. The first and current phase focuses on the assembly of the X-59, followed by initial flights planned for later this year to prove the safety and performance of the aircraft. ”


“The second phase, expected to take place during 2023, will focus on acoustic validation. During this phase, the mission will prove the X-59 is ready for regular operations in the National Airspace System. The aircraft will fly over NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California to demonstrate that the supersonic technologies work as designed. The flights will also show that the tools used to predict and measure the sound level of the sonic thump are ready for use in phase three.”

“Likely the most anticipated point in the mission, phase three will feature the X-59 flying over several communities across the US, gathering data from the public to learn what people think of the X-59′s sound. take place in 2024 through 2026. NASA has yet to select the communities.”

“The mission is set to wrap up in 2027 by taking the information collected during phase three and sharing it with US and international regulators. With the information gathered during the Quest mission, the hope is to enable regulators to consider rules based on how loud an The aircraft is, not based on an arbitrary speed.”


Jonathan Rathsam, technical co-lead for community tests for the Quest Mission, appeared on KPRC 2+ Thursday to talk about the mission in depth. For his insights, watch the full interview in the video player at the top of the page.

For more information about NASA’s Quest Mission, visit

You can stream KPRC 2+ weekdays at 7 am on and on the KPRC 2 app.

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