Boeing’s ‘son of Blackbird’ hypersonic plane is designed to hit 3,800 mph

Boeing Son of Blackbird concept
Boeing
The battle is well and truly on to replace Lockheed Martin’s legendary SR-71-“Blackbird” hypersonic plane after Boeing this week unveiled a concept design that takes high-speed flight technology to the next level.

Dubbed the “son of Blackbird,” Boeing’s design is a direct competitor to Lockheed’s under-development SR-72 and would travel at five times the speed of sound (Mach 5) — 3,836 mph (6,174 kmh). To put that in perspective, your run-of-the-mill Boeing 787 Dreamliner passenger jet has a cruising speed of around 560 mph (903 kmh), while the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle fighter plane can push the dial to around 1,650 mph (2,665 kmh).

So yes, a ride in Boeing’s design would have your eyeballs pressing against the back of your skull and your stomach searching for an orifice through which to escape.

Boeing’s concept (above), revealed at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics SciTech forum in Orlando, Florida, reveals a sleek design that could one day be used for both reconnaissance and combat missions.

Clearly mindful of the huge challenges that come with designing such an aircraft, Boeing chief scientist for hypersonics Kevin Bowcutt told Aviation Week recently: “It’s a really hard problem to develop an aircraft that takes off and accelerates through Mach 1 all the way to Mach 5 and beyond.”

Bowcutt said Boeing is working on developing the aircraft in two stages, with the first involving test flights of an F16-sized, single-engine precursor aircraft to prove the design’s viability. After that, the team would aim to develop a “twin-engine, full-scale operational vehicle” similar in size to the 107-foot-long SR-71.

Boeing will draw on its experiences developing the experimental and unmanned X-43 and X-51 Waverider hypersonic planes, Popular Mechanics reported.

The X-51 had its first fully successful test flight in May 2013, flying at Mach 5.1 for three and a half minutes before running out of fuel and crashing into the Pacific.

But the X-51 was dropped from a larger aircraft before using a rocket booster to reach Mach 4.8. It then jettisoned the booster and used a scramjet engine to reach Mach 5. “A hypersonic replacement for the SR-71 would need to take off under its own power, accelerate through Mach 1 and up to above Mach 5, and then slow back down and land, a much more difficult challenge,” Popular Mechanics pointed out in its report.

Mobile

Midrange phones can’t do A.I., but MediaTek’s P90 chip aims to change that

MediaTek has announced the Helio P90 mobile processor, which it says will bring the best A.I. features we see on high-end smartphones, to the mid-range. We spoke to the company about the chip.
Computing

Here’s how to install Windows on a Chromebook

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so, just in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only…
Movies & TV

The best new movie trailers: ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ ‘Bumblebee,’ ‘Alita,’ and more

Everyone loves a good trailer, but keeping up with what's new isn't easy. That's why we round up the best ones for you. This week, it's the first trailer for Avengers: Endgame, as well as new trailers for Alita: Battle Angel and Bumblebee.
Product Review

‘Just Cause 4’ is mindless fun that leaves little room for much else

Just Cause 4 revels in explosions and over-the-top action, but its world feels empty and hollow. With few new ideas and a stale open world, it's a fun but shallow piece of escapism.
Emerging Tech

It’s no flying car, but the e-scooter had a huge impact on city streets in 2018

Within just a year, electric scooters have fundamentally changed how we navigate cities. From San Francisco to Paris, commuters have a new option that’s more fun than mass transit, easier than a bike, and definitely not a car.
Emerging Tech

Intel wants its fleet of drones to monitor America’s aging, unsafe bridges

Intel has signed a deal to use its Falcon 8+ drones to carry out bridge inspections. The hope is that these drones will be useful in spotting potential problems before they become serious.
Giveaways

Print your heart’s desire: Enter our giveaway to win a free Monoprice 3D printer

We’re giving away a $400 Monoprice MP Voxel 3D Printer. It's easy to use, especially for beginners, with its simple menu system and touchscreen display. It comes fully assembled so you can spend more time printing instead of setting up.
Emerging Tech

Transplanted pig hearts show promise in baboon trials. Are humans next?

Researchers in Germany have successfully transplanted modified pig hearts into baboons. The results take us one step closer to ending organ transplant waiting lists for good. Here's why.
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.
Emerging Tech

Makerbot is back with a new 3D printer that’s faster and more precise than ever

MakerBot's new Method 3D printer aims to bridge the gap between home 3D printers and more industrial 3D printing tech. Here are a few of the tantalizing things you can expect from it.
Emerging Tech

Warm ski beanie instantly hardens into a head-protecting helmet upon impact

Wool hats are way more comfortable than hard helmets. You know what they're not? Safer. That could soon change, thanks to an innovative new ski beanie which instantly hardens upon impact.
Deals

Take to the skies with these 5 drones on sale for under $50

On the hunt for some cool tech for under $50? We've rounded up 5 drones under $50 that you can still get before Christmas. These models are great for kids, adults, and anyone just getting started with drones.
Emerging Tech

With this robotic garage, retrieving your car is like using a vending machine

Remembering where we parked our cars can be a real pain. But what if our cars came to find us, rather than the other way around? A new automated robot parking valet system aims to help.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…