Supersonic Green Machine: Nasa looks at futuristic jet design

It looks like a plane designed for a superhero or an invading alien force.

But this sleek, green aircraft could one day be the supersonic jet of the future.

Dubbed the Supersonic Green Machine, the design was submitted by Lockheed Martin as part of an investigation by Nasa into how air travel might look in 2035.

Its key innovation is an inverted-V engine which is designed to reduce the effects of sonic boom.

One of the many problems to afflict Concorde supersonic jet was its characteristic sonic boom as it hit Mach 1.

Sonic booms occur as sound waves crash into one another as an object reaches the speed of sound. As an object passes through air it creates shock waves at the font and rear.

At around 761mph the shock waves compress into each other and create a tell-tale ‘crack’ sound as they crash into one another.

In extreme circumstances a sonic boom can be enough to smash windows on the ground, where the sonic boom will reach up to 60 seconds after it takes place, depending on the jet’s altitude.

The inverted V is designed to work much like a spoiler on a racing car, improving the airflow and lessening the sonic boom.

Vast quantities of fuel were also required to enable Concorde to hit such high speeds while it also belched out nitrous oxide as a by-product as it flew, meaning it was restricted to flights over water.

While there are few details as to how the Lockheed jet will work, its  designers that in simulations it is far more fuel;-efficient and the effect of the sonic boom was considerably reduced.

Submitted as part of the Administration’s research into advanced aeronautics, the above Lockheed Martin-designed aircraft is just one vision of how air travel might be conducted in the future.

Earlier designs for futuristic supersonic jets by Lockheed have included variable-cycle engines with advanced thermal management systems to deal with the high temperatures at supersonic speeds.

Leave a Comment