Research & Development

JAXA promotes three research and development programs and a fundamental research program that underpins them.

Silent supersonic transport technologies

Topics More

Wind tunnel testing at JAXA as part of joint research on supersonic transport technology with NASA and Boeing

JAXA conducted supersonic wind tunnel test on the scale model of the X-59, NASA’s supersonic experimental aircraft, in the 1m x 1m supersonic wind tunnel at JAXA Chofu Aerospace Center in March 2022 in collaboration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Boeing Company (Boeing).

The NASA’s X-59 quiet supersonic demonstrator is designed to reduce sonic booms, the noise caused by shock waves generated when an airplane travels at supersonic speeds, with the objective to gather data from the flight tests for future international standards for supersonic flight over land.

The wind tunnel test at JAXA was conducted as part of the joint research with NASA and Boeing with the objective to validate the X-59’s low sonic boom design. For the test, JAXA researchers installed the 1.62 percent scale model of the X-59 built by NASA in JAXA’s 1m x 1m supersonic wind tunnel, and took measurements of pressure waves generated by the model in an airflow of Mach 1.4, the cruising speed of the X-59, using JAXA’s original pressure measurement rails. JAXA's 1m x 1m supersonic wind tunnel is the largest supersonic wind tunnel in Japan for civilian use and has been used for many tests with partners in Japan and overseas. The pressure measurement rail used for the tests has a unique shape, which was developed by JAXA based on its wealth of experiences of sonic boom research.

Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, NASA and Boeing team were unable to participate directly in the testing at JAXA. Instead, they participated in the testing remotely by setting up a “virtual control room” at Boeing in Seattle to assist the JAXA team.

All the test cases have been carried out as planned. Preliminary readings indicate that all data obtained from the tests are of good quality. The measured pressure waveforms will be provided to NASA and Boeing for comparison with those measured in NASA’s wind tunnel. The measured data will also be used for sonic boom prediction workshop planned later this year. The wind tunnel testing jointly organized and carried out by three parties working on supersonic aircraft research was of a great opportunity to work together toward a shared goal.JAXA will continue making contribution to the realization of low-boom supersonic aircraft and the establishment of environmental standards through international cooperation with NASA and Boeing.

The wind tunnel model of NASA’s X-59 and JAXA’s pressure measurement rail installed in the 1m x 1m supersonic wind tunnel at JAXA.

July 6, 2022

Page Top