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

Comments

More

I spent inauguration night in Trump Towers and all I got was crushing

Red hats and naff cocktails in the (former) home of the world's most powerful man

23 Jan 2017

Roast potatoes and burnt toast could put you at risk of cancer

Potato smiles ain't looking so smiley anymore

by James Bird
23 Jan 2017

New calculator tells you whether you'd survive a nuclear bomb

Hint: nil

by Emily Badiozzaman
23 Jan 2017

Rod Stewart was hilariously pissed on live television over the weekend

"NUMBER SISSTEEN!"

by Sam Diss
23 Jan 2017

Artist makes a 27ft Knife Angel out of 100,000 confiscated weapons

Could this end up in Trafalgar Square?

20 Jan 2017

Finally, a Top Trumps game that shows all of Donald Trump's personas

For 1-4 Caucasian players

by Emily Badiozzaman
20 Jan 2017

Brilliant political cartoons that sum up Donald Trump's idiocy

Because sometimes you have to laugh. Right? RIGHT?

20 Jan 2017

Read Obama’s farewell letter to the American people

"You made me a better man"

by Emily Badiozzaman
20 Jan 2017

Yohji Yamamoto's new collection actually makes us want to wear a suit

We'll have one of everything, please

by Sam Diss
20 Jan 2017

This kid set a fire at anti-Trump rally; totally owned it on live TV

We want to be this kid when we grow up

by Sam Diss
20 Jan 2017