NASA Aeronautics is partnering with industry, academia, and other agencies to enable a sustainable zero- or low-emission future for aviation during the 2040s and beyond.
Sustainable solutions for beyond next-generation subsonic transports will require concepts and capabilities that inspire new solution paths, enable innovative design, and lead to breakthrough technologies that transform aviation.
Long-Term Transport Technology & Innovation
For decades, NASA has used generational studies to inform future technology investments. NASA’s N+2 studies envisioned aircraft two generations beyond what was currently flying at the time.
These studies guided investments for new technologies now entering service in the 2020s. N+3 studies likewise guided selections for technologies in the Sustainable Flight National Partnership to impact next-generation transports entering service in the 2030s. Now, NASA is looking ahead at advanced concept studies needed to define technologies that would enter service in the 2040s and beyond.
These studies will help NASA define future opportunities in aviation systems and concepts, including:
• Zero emissions concepts
• Promising technology and architectures
• NASA-unique contributions to support the aviation community
Zero Aviation Emissions Innovation
NASA’s zero aviation emissions innovations foster radical aviation technology advancement, including new energy sources and aircraft architectures that will be necessary for large aircraft with extremely low or zero emissions.
We are involving our University Leadership Initiative (ULI) to give tomorrow’s aeronautical innovators an opportunity to explore low-technology readiness level concepts. These new technologies can be further conceptualized, researched, and ground and flight tested, so they can be advanced for the 2040s+ timeframe. In fact, a recent ULI solicitation in March 2021 included zero emissions topics.
Gateways to Blue Skies
NASA is engaging with the future aviation workforce to envision sustainable futures. Recently, NASA invited teams of undergraduate and graduate students to design a 2050s airport able to support the climate-friendly aircraft and aviation markets of the future in the 2022 Gateways to Blue Skies: Airports of Tomorrow Competition.