NASA Pushes For A Green Jetliner

They might be best known for space travel, but the folks at NASA are determined to shape the future of commercial aviation. The agency says airliners need to be quieter, greener and more fuel-efficient. To attain those goals, NASA handed out nearly $6 million in contracts this week to two defense industry giants: Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. NASA’s goal is to develop technology that would enable future aircraft to burn 50% less fuel than current models, cut harmful emissions in half and shrink the geographic areas affected by obnoxious airport noise by 83%. The agency hopes to develop concepts for airliners that could go into service by 2025. Engineers from Lockheed’s famed-Skunkworks defense enclave in Palmdale won about $3 million to develop the concept. Northrop engineers, working out of the company’s space park in El Segundo, were given $2.65 million. The engineers will have 12 months to develop a concept for an aircraft that can fly near the speed of sound at a range of 7,000 miles, carrying up to 100,000 pounds of either passengers or cargo. But don’t expect the traditional “tube-and-wing” design for the aircraft’s wings and fuselage. This project is all about thinking outside the box.

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