Lockheed Martin's hypersonic aircraft plans are taking shape
This vehicle won't be crude, either. While the existing Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept project will rely on a booster to reach the altitude where its ramjet kicks in, the new concept embraces the SR-72's "turbine-based combined cycle," where conventional jet tech meets a ramjet. That would let it transition from takeoff to hypersonic speeds without needing a booster engine or helper aircraft in the early stages.
Lockheed's work will still take a while to come to fruition. It's readying a demonstrator aircraft for 2018, and the first hypersonic vehicles in the 2020s (such as HAWC) will likely be weapons. Still, these are positive signs. Although the military is the target customer right now, the developments could lead to hypersonic passenger aircraft that get you across continents in the same time that a short-hop flight takes today.
This article by Jon Fingas originally ran on Engadget, the definitive guide to this connected life.
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