Supersonic Flying Wing Nabs $100,000 from NASA

An aircraft that resembles a four-point ninja star could go into supersonic mode by simply turning 90 degrees in midair. The unusual “flying wing” concept has won $100,000 in NASA funding to trying becoming a reality for future passenger jet travel.

A flying wing aircraft design resembling a ninja star can turn 90 degrees in midair to go into supersonic mode.
CREDIT: Ge-Chen Zha | Florida State University

The supersonic, bidirectional flying wing idea comes from a team headed by Ge-Chen Zha, an aerospace engineer at Florida State University. He said the fuel-efficient aircraft could reach supersonic speeds without the thunderclap sound produced by a sonic boom

— a major factor that previously limited where the supersonic Concorde passenger jet could fly over populated land masses.
“I am hoping to develop an environmentally friendly and economically viable airplane for supersonic civil transport in the next 20 to 30 years,” Zha said. “Imagine flying from New York to Tokyo in four hours instead of 15 hours.”

NASA liked the idea enough to give Zha and his colleagues a $100,000 grant from the Innovative Advanced Concepts program. But

the U.S. space agency does not expect such funded concepts to fly for at least another 20 years or so.

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