NASA has begun testing revolutionary passenger aircraft set to take flight in 2025 that are faster and greener than existing models.
In late 2010, NASA contracted three design teams from Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and The Boeing Company to work on the models for the rest of 2011. The three teams have already released artist conceptions of what the planes look like, including one by Boeing that’s a dead ringer for the stealth bomber, and another that has the engine perched at the back.
The designs will 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 passenger or cargo payload.
“Each design looks very different, but all final designs have to meet NASA's goals for less noise, cleaner exhaust and lower fuel consumption,” according to the NASA website.
“For the rest of this year, each team will be exploring, testing, simulating, keeping and discarding innovations and technologies to make their design a winner.”
The project is sponsored by NASA's Environmentally Responsible Aviation Project, which is under the agency’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate in Washington.
The project is currently developing technology that can cut harmful emissions in aircraft by half, burn 50 percent less fuel than contemporary models and shrink geographical areas affected by airport noise by 83 percent.