NASA wants hypersonic plane, puts aside $15 million

If NASA gets its way, layovers will become a thing of the past. It has plans in the works to develop hypersonic jets that would surpass the speed of sound by a factor of five. What’s the implication? Well, you get on a plane in New York and get off in Sydney a mere two and a half hours later. That’s a cut from the current flight duration of 21 hours, according to The Daily Mail. In addition to shortening existing routes, NASA also wants to put faraway places into play … including Mars.

According to the NASA Aeronautics 2010 proposal, it’s putting aside $5million a year for the next three years to support the development of this reusable aircraft. The Daily Mail continues:

The proposal says: ‘The hypersonic heating environment, coupled with the emphasis on reusability, creates additional severe technology challenges for materials, material coatings, and structures that not only carry the aerodynamic loads of the air but also repeatedly sustain high thermal loads requiring long-life and durability while minimizing weight.

It looks like the future may be close. The X-51A Waverider scramjet hit Mach 6 this summer and flew on its own for 200 seconds. But, it had to get started by being dropped from a B-52 bomber. NASA’s plan is for something that can take off and land on its own.

[photo by Bluedharma via Flickr]