Government IT: NASA`s Vision for the Future of Flight in 2025 and Beyond
In late 2010, NASA awarded contracts to three teams-Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Boeing-to study advanced concept designs for aircraft that could take to the skies in the year 2025. At the time of the award, the team gave NASA a sneak peek of the particular designs they planned to pursue. Now the space agency, in the last throes of its space-shuttle glory days, is making some of those designs public. The space agency also recently sponsored an 18-month effort to visualize the passenger airplanes of the future. Instead of exotic new designs seemingly borrowed from science fiction, familiar shapes dominated the pages of advanced concept studies, which four industry teams completed for NASA's Fundamental Aeronautics Program in April 2010. While each design looks very different, the space agency noted all final designs have to meet NASA's goals for less noise, cleaner exhaust and lower fuel consumption. Shape-memory alloys, ceramic or fiber composites, carbon-nanotube or fiber-optic cabling, self-healing skin, hybrid electric engines, folding wings, double fuselages and virtual-reality windows are just a few of the far-out conceptual materials that aircraft of the future might embody.