This configuration might look familiar to those Ares readers who have followed the on-again, off-again research into low-boom supersonic aircraft. The work began under DARPA's Quiet Supersonic Platform (QSP) program, which produced concepts for military and commercial aircraft with shaped sonic booms. It continued under Lockheed Martin Skunk Work's paid-for design work on Supersonic Aerospace International's Quiet Supersonic Transport (QSST). Now it has resurfaced under NASA's N+3 studies of concepts for commercial aircraft that could enter service in 2030-35.
Photo: Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin is leading one of six teams awarded 18-month, circa $2 million Phase 1 study contracts under the N+3 research effort. You can see the similarities with the Skunk Works' QSP and QSST designs. The long, carefully contoured fuselage and the slender wing braced by a lifting tail - designed to reduce weight and shape of the sonic boom to minimise the shock overpressures on the ground. There is also more than a passing resemblance to this:
Fireflash, from Thunderbirds (Photo: fabgearusa.com)