Someone is selling a display model of Rocketdyne’s NASP concept:
This is obviously not the final X-30 NASP design, but an earlier concept when the engine manufacturers and airframe builders were still doing their own separate designs. This dates it to about the 1985-1987 timeframe.
The design itself, while representing the mid-1980’s state of the art, was by no means new. The basic shape of the vehicle was already well established by 1966 or so as one of the Lockheed CL-655 variants; that would be used as either a hypersonic single-stage long range vehicle, or a hypersonic first stage for a rocket powered (and Convair designed) second stage. The engines for the CL-655 were to be advanced air-breathers developed by Marquardt… but the exact engine layout, and even engine *type,* do not seem to have been finalized.
This is the same designl that I built a display model of for the Marquardt program manager. The model is now on display (well, as of 2004 or so) somewhere at NASA-MSFC.
By 1967 Lockheed had released more artwork of geometrically similar hypersonic manned vehicles, one a research vehicle, the other apparently a passenger transport.
Note the rocket engine at the tail for boost (probably a toroidal aerospike).
The same basic geometry was used at McDonnell-Douglas in 1973 for a hypersonic test vehicle:
And was used again by McDonnell-Douglas in their early NASP/hypersonic transport efforts:
And which was shamelessly stolen by me to help me flesh out the “Aurora” concept model that I mastered for Fantastic Plastic:
And finally, some Rocketdyne artwork of their NASP concept. Note that the leading edges of the wings are curved rather than straight:
The repetition of this same basic shape does not mean that aircraft designers are just lazy. It just means that this is a good shape for this sort of vehicle.