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NASA's aircraft of the future (images)

NASA is attempting to fill the skies with quieter, faster, more fuel efficient, and carbonless aircraft.

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What are the two of the most glaring problems in modern aircraft? Noise and carbon emissions. NASA’s Aeronautics division is working on airplanes of the future that can solve those problems and many more. Check out Rachel's King's blog from the TED+NASA event Wednesday.

This Boeing concept has a blended wing body and could be ready for production in 2020.

Credit: Boeing

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From a 2010 event came this design from NASA and GE Aviation for a business-type, 20-passenger jet that would be lighter and more aerodynamic than the airplanes of today. Plus, it was designed to be quieter and more fuel efficient. 

The plane flies on "ultra-quiet turboprop engines, virtual reality windows and is designed to fly at Mach 0.55 for 800 nautical miles," according to NASA.

Image credit: NASA/GE Aviation

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The biggest problem with civilian aircraft flying at supersonic speeds is the noise level of sonic booms. This concept was designed to reduce the sonic shockwave signature and reduce drag.

Image credit: NASA/Lockheed Martin

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The design by Lockheed Martin on this concept is expected to greatly reduce the level of sonic booms through the use of an "inverted-V" engine-under wing configuration.

Image credit: NASA/Lockheed Martin Corporation

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AMELIA (Advanced Model for Extreme Lift and Improved Aeroacoustics) is a hybrid wing body-type subsonic vehicle. The design by the California Polytechnic State Institute expects to reduce noise to communities near airports by its short takeoff and landing capabilities. Wind tunnel testing is scheduled for fall 2011.

Image credit: NASA/Cal Poly

 

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This boxed- or joined-wing configuration was designed to reduce drag and increase fuel efficiency. It could be in use by 2020.

Image credit: NASA/Lockheed Martin

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The subscale model of a D8 or "double bubble" aircraft is undergoing wind tunnel test at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The proposed aircraft features "a wide fuselage to provide extra lift, low-swept wings to reduce drag and weight, and engines sitting above the fuselage and aft of the wings to block some noise from reaching the ground," according to NASA.

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This image shows the wide fuselage of the D8 aircraft.

Credit: NASA/MIT

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The MIT team includes Professor Mark Drela (center) and undergraduate students Nina Siu (left) and Mike Lieu (right). They have been joing by Aurora Flight Sciences and Pratt & Whitney to design a concept for NASA to conserve fuel, reduce emissions and reduce noise.

Credit: NASA/MIT

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Here's a concept of a 180-passenger D8 or "double bubble" which isn't expect to take off until 2030.

Image credit: NASA/MIT/Aurora Flight Sciences

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A research team led by Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation is developing Silent Efficient Low Emissions Commercial Transport, or SELECT. The body will feature advanced lightweight ceramic composite materials along with nanotechnology and shape memory alloys. The 120-passenger SELECT is being developed to land at smaller airports. It could fly by 2030.

Image credit: NASA/Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation

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Boeing is developing the Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research, or SUGAR, Volt which is a hybrid twin-engine aircraft. The Volt would fly on gas and battery power and carry 154 passengers.

Image credit: NASA/The Boeing Company

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Boeing's Icon-II design is expected to reduce fuel burn and airport noise levels while reducing sonic boom noise.

Image credit: NASA/The Boeing Company

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MIT is developing the Hybrid Wing Body H-Series which is expected to carry 354 passengers and includes embedded engines using variable area nozzles with thrust vectoring, and noise shielding.

Image credit: NASA/MIT/Aurora Flight Sciences

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