No, you're not looking at an early preview of Star Wars Episode VII -- it just might represent the future of air transport, though. Boeing has spent years developing a truly quiet supersonic airliner concept, the Icon II, and what you see is an aerodynamics test of a mockup in a vaguely Death Star-like wind tunnel at NASA's Glenn Research Center. The starfighter design is for more than just show, as you'd suspect. Its V-tail design moves sonic booms further back, reducing the chance that shockwaves will reach the ground (and our ears) intact, while the top-mounted engines isolate engine noise. Boeing and NASA are ultimately hoping for production passenger aircraft discreet enough to fly over land at supersonic speeds, although we can't help but think that the sci-fi look is a convenient bonus.
Filed under: Transportation, Alt
Source: New Scientist]]>