Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Boeing unveils the future of flight

Boeing_NASA-hero.jpg

Last week, the Discovery space shuttle blasted off into the abyss for a final journey that signalled the beginning of the end for 30 years of continuous US space exploration.

Nobbled by a brittle economy and the glitzy emergence of Virgin Galactic-style space tourism, you wouldn’t blame Nasa if it simply whiled away the hours idly devouring stockpiles of freeze-dried food.

So it’s good to see it launching an exciting new venture — a quest to unearth the future of air travel. Late last year, Nasa enlisted America’s three biggest aviation experts and asked them to come up with a viable design for a commercially available plane that could theoretically go into production by 2025.

Boeing’s stupendously sleek concept (picture 1) is capable of near-supersonic speed, echoes the wind-skimming lines of Nineties military planes and will surely be the frontrunner for production once this year’s gruelling tests and simulations are done.

The contracted companies couldn’t completely run wild though. Nasa kept superfluous sci-fi flourishes to a minimum with strict design specifications. The plane of the future needed to be able to cover a range of 7,000 miles and get to 85 per cent of the speed of sound while still carrying between 50,000lb and 100,000lb of either cargo or passengers.

Northrop Grumman’s concept features a twin-fuselage reminiscent of Richard Branson’s star-grazing White Knight Two, while Lockheed Martin’s design resembles a 747 with the huge engine nudged to the back of the aircraft.

Both valiant efforts, but we’re hooked on the idea of wheeling our suitcase on to a stealth bomber for our 2026 summer holidays. See the other two models, here.

Related

th.jpg

Classic car reborn

picto.jpg

Futuristic buildings of communism

E3POD Hero Shotss.jpg

The amazing E-3POD

More

Sir Bruce Forsyth has died aged 89

The legendary presenter has died aged 89

by Gary Ogden
18 Aug 2017

The biggest stereotype about men and sex is actually a load of rubbish

We've been wrong this whole time

by Gary Ogden
18 Aug 2017

Discover the words that became cool in the year you were born

Were you born in the year of booty calls or cybersex?

by Emily Reynolds
18 Aug 2017

This German town came up with a genius way of humiliating neo-Nazis

Is this the best possible way to deal with them?

by Alex Finnis
18 Aug 2017

Donald Trump’s lawyer: possibly not racist, definitely not intelligent

Oldest trick in the book

by Tom Victor
17 Aug 2017

The 10 worst cities in the world to live in 2017

To put your first-world problems into perspective

17 Aug 2017

We have some very, very good news about cheese

Cheese lovers, it's our time to shine

by Emily Reynolds
17 Aug 2017

Jurors refuse to work on Martin Shkreli's trial for the best reasons

He is *not* a popular man

by Emily Reynolds
17 Aug 2017

Apparently millennials hate boobs now - but what do we like instead?

These god damn millennials, eh

by Gary Ogden
17 Aug 2017

All the times Donald Trump has failed to condemn far-right extremists

This has gone on for some time

by Tom Victor
16 Aug 2017