Jun 28, 2010
This image, posted with little additional information on the NASA site, is one of two supersonic studies done for its N+3 airliners of the future project.
The other study, by Boeing, may be released shortly.
The unusual tail design scoped in the LockMart study is intended to disrupt and diminish the supersonic booms generated by SST’s. These shock waves were sufficiently intense directly underneath Concordes cruising at close to Mach 2 to damage some buildings and shatter windows, causing it to be banished from flying over populated areas.
The Lockheed Martin design, of publicly unspecified size and range at this stage, would be able to fly any route operated by today’s subsonic airliners, in a study anticipating the technologies and materials available to the air transport industry from 2035.
Some might however wonder if ‘proprietary’ information about the engines has caused the released image to ‘fudge’ them. These look like the engines that were fitted to the B-58 Hustler America’s first but vulnerable supersonic bomber, and do not feature variable intakes like those on Concorde. Of course we don’t know, at this stage, how fast the airliner shown would fly, or its other characteristics.
What can be expected is that if the tail and engine configuration shown in the graphic is likely to work as predicted, a US patent will have already been lodged, and may well, when found, reveal a great deal more information.
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