WASHINGTON — The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration anticipates that the X-59, Quiet Supersonic Technology (Quesst) demonstrator, will conduct its maiden flight in 2023 after the completion of remaining system evaluations.

NASA and its partner Lockheed Martin have confirmed that the first flight of the X-59 will occur in 2023. A more specific date will be given after the fulfillment of a series of system checkouts and ground tests in the coming months.

NASA has stated that the X-59 could lead to the return of supersonic commercial air travel. But the program faces criticism from an advocacy group requesting the agency re-evaluate the X-59 program because it conflicts with the United States government's objective to decrease the aviation industry's carbon footprint.

The X-59 is a critical component of NASA's Low-Boom Flight Demonstration Mission, in which the agency is developing and testing designs that can reduce the sonic boom of supersonic aircraft. NASA says the program has the potential to make supersonic flight feasible over land.

The U.S. regulator does not allow supersonic flight over land due to severe noise impact.

NASA awarded Lockheed Martin a contract worth $247.5 million in 2018 to design, build, and test the X-59 aircraft. According to NASA, the aircraft's design, including its long, narrow fuselage and specific structural elements, will produce a sonic boom on the ground, which is similar to the sound of distant thunder or a car door closing.

Lockheed Martin produced the X-59 as a single-pilot aircraft powered by a GE Aviation F414-GE-100 engine, providing a 22,000lb-thrust at its Skunk Works facility in Palmdale, California. The aircraft is designed to fly at an altitude of 55,000ft and reach speeds of Mach 1.4.