The team a Lockheed Martin have been trying to push the envelope and claim to have the formula for Mach 6 passenger flights.
The human race has always been obsessed with speed, and Lockheed Martin is one company that has proved its commitment on this front several times. The SR-71 Blackbird, one of the company’s forays into traveling faster than the speed of sound, may have retired in 1998, but that doesn’t mean work on future aircraft – and faster ones – has stopped.
Lockheed Martin has now announced that it may have cracked the code for an aircraft that can travel at Mach 6 speeds, or six times the speed of sound.
“A controllable low-drag, aerodynamic configuration capable of stable operations from takeoff to subsonic, transonic, supersonic and hypersonic, to Mach 6,”
is how Marillyn Hewson, Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin describes the new technology that is being put to work at the company and it does sound plausible if not impressive.
The one piece in the jigsaw puzzle of hypersonic aircrafts that have refused to fall into place was how the oxygen from outside could be channeled into the aircraft engines and power them properly. The working of this concept was essential to reach and maintain the speeds researchers were aiming at, and now, Lockheed claims to have found the answer.
Rob Weiss, Executive Vice President of the Advanced Development Projects wing of Lockheed, weighed in on the breakthrough.
“There’s a number of challenges in the technologies, the propulsion, the materials that have to deal with the hightemperatures, and we’re at a point now where those technologies are mature, and therefore we feel very confident that we can field and successfully fly a hypersonic vehicle,” Weiss said.
On the cost front, the technology is supposedly a breakthrough, offering the company the opportunity to develop the planned aircraft at a cost of less than $1 billion, although this one would only be an aircraft the size of an F-22 fighter and would be used only for demonstration purposes. Even so, the announced cost does sound promising.
The last we had heard about an aircraft manufacturer meddling with speeds several times faster than the speed of sound was when Airbus revealed its plans of for one that could hit speeds of Mach 4.5. The plans for the rocket plane by Airbus was awarded a patent by US authorities and reports mentioned how the plane was aimed at business travelers who wished for intercontinental return trips in one day.
While Airbus’ plans for the aircraft was aimed at passenger travel that could carry up to 20 passengers, Lockheed Martin’s is different that, at least in initial plans, the aim was for their technology to be primarily for military use. However, the company did give indications that once the defense plans were in place, the same technology could be applied for use in the civilian sector.
Speaking about how Lockheed had the expertise to carry off such a project in the near future, Hewson spoke of how hypersonic passenger travel might make trips into space easier and could be a part of immediate future plans.
Looks like the future is coming at us at Mach 6 speed.
images via: http://www.lockheedmartin.com/