NASA has been actively encouraging aerospace companies to start working on the next generation of passenger airliners, and we've been impressed by futuristic designs from Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Northrop Grumman revealed its design last week, and it probably looks familiar: it's basically a giant B-2 stealth bomber that you can ride inside.
Northrop Grumman has a lot of experience building flying wings, harking all the way back to the YB-49. Theoretically, a flying wing is the most efficient design configuration for a fix-wing aircraft, offering low drag and light weight that lead to high speeds and low fuel consumption. They also have small radar cross-sections, which is personally a priority for me whenever I'm flying commercially, since I hate to look fat on radar.
So far, Northrop's concept isn't much more than some cool pictures, although it undoubtedly already has a lot of engineering behind the design. The original idea (floated by NASA) is that one company's design would get turned into a flying small-scale test vehicle (small-scale meaning the size of a 737), but budget cuts have put that idea on hold indefinitely. Northrop, however, is already looking a couple decades down the line when there will be a need for a new military airlifter, and it may end up tossing this design into the ring along with Boeing's X-48 and Lockheed's Speed Agile.