On the heels of MIT’s design for the plane of the future, NASA has given us a peek into some of the new ideas they have slated for the not-so-distant future. Recently, NASA asked the three largest airplane companies in the US to come up with a design that would fit a very specific criteria. This project hoped to create a full-functioning plane by the year 2025 that would not only use significantly less fuel, but be cleaner and quieter and be able to haul ass. To our surprise, the designs they received from the trio were not only radical, but also a little bit retro!
These images are from initial proposal that NASA used in awarding contracts to Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing. The critera stated on NASA’s website was that “each design has to fly up to 85 percent of the speed of sound; cover a range of approximately 7,000 miles; and carry between 50,000 and 100,000 pounds of payload, either passengers or cargo.”
The Lockheed Martin‘s design (above) is the most conventional with a central fuselage, and a sweeping wing and single engine. Overall, the design looks like it’s off to a promising start.
Boeing seemed to been thumbing through the history books as they planned the development a flying wing (top) – the theoretical efficiency of the design has been long understood, but not yet realized.
Alternatively, Northrop Grumman’s take looks like a baby plane with huge pontoons which are really double cabins. While the rendering is a bit minimal, the design looks to be a radical change in what know to be commercial airplanes.