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The NASA Hyper-X Project

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posted on Jun, 21 2004 @ 01:21 PM
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NASA'S HYPER-X PROJECT AND THE X-43A Hyper-X is an experimental flight-research program seeking to demonstrate airframe-integrated, "air-breathing" engine technologies that promise to increase payload capacity for future vehicles, including hypersonic aircraft (faster than Mach 5) and reusable space launchers. The test vehicle for the project is designated the X-43A. This multiyear program is currently underway at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California. Hyper-X is a joint program, with Dryden sharing responsibility with NASA?s Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia. Dryden?s primary role is to fly three unpiloted X-43A research vehicles to validate engine technologies and hypersonic design tools as well as the hypersonic test facility at Langley. Langley manages the program and leads the technology development effort. The Hyper-X Program seeks to significantly expand the speed boundaries of air-breathing propulsion by being the first aircraft to demonstrate an airframe-integrated, scramjet-powered free flight. Scramjets (supersonic-combustion ramjets) are ramjet engines in which the airflow through the whole engine remains supersonic. Scramjet technology is challenging because only limited testing can be performed in ground facilities. Long duration, full-scale testing requires flight research. "We're finally getting down to testing the basic science of a new propulsion system that could ultimately alter commercial aerospace and national security," said Charles Vick, acting director of space policy for the Federation of American Scientists. "It's a big step forward for aerospace technology." It would come after repeated setbacks to design of a hypersonic craft. A $2.5-billion Reagan-era hypersonic program, based in Southern California, was scuttled. With one short flight, to begin off the coast of Los Angeles, NASA officials say dreams of a commercial airliner that can fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo in two hours instead of 10 is one step closer to reality. The military's vision calls for a bomber that would be too fast to shoot down. Scramjet engines are air-breathing, capturing their oxygen from the atmosphere. Current spacecraft, such as the Space Shuttle, are rocket powered, so they must carry both fuel and oxygen for propulsion. Scramjet technology-based vehicles need to carry only fuel. By eliminating the need to carry oxygen, future hypersonic vehicles will be able to carry heavier payloads. Another unique aspect of the X-43A vehicle is the airframe integration. The body of the vehicle itself forms critical elements of the engine. The forebody acts as part of the intake for airflow and the aft section serves as the nozzle. The X-43A vehicles were manufactured by Micro Craft, Inc., Tullahoma, Tennessee. Orbital Sciences Corporation, Chandler, Arizona, built the Pegasus rocket booster used to launch the X-43 vehicles. For the Dryden research flights, the Pegasus rocket booster and attached X-43 will be air launched by Dryden?s B-52 "Mothership." After release from the B-52, the booster will accelerate the X-43A vehicle to the established test conditions (Mach 7 to 10) at an altitude of approximately 100,000 feet where the X-43 will separate from the booster and fly under its own power and preprogrammed control. As the lead Center for the flight-research effort, Dryden engineers are working closely with their colleagues from Langley and industry to refine the design of the X-43A vehicles. Dryden also is managing the fabrication of both the X-43A vehicles and the expendable booster rockets that will serve as launch vehicles. Dryden also will perform flight-research planning as well as some vehicle instrumentation and provide control of the tests. The program was kicked off by President Reagan less than a week after the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986 in a State of the Union address in which he described an "Orient Express" that could by 2000 "take off from Dulles Airport, accelerate up to 25 times the speed of sound . . . flying to Tokyo within two hours." But with the recession and Congress under pressure from critics who argued that such a plane would not fly, funding dwindled prompting several aerospace companies to abandon or significantly scale down the project. NASA kept up the research, however, tapping into studies completed for the National Aero-Space Plane. The project left a legacy of about 20 trailers filled with invaluable research papers and data, NASA officials said. The X-43A test flight comes as a recent study by the Air Force's Scientific Advisory panel warned that several other countries were developing hypersonic aircraft that could pose both national-security and commercial threats to the U.S. The report, which echoes warnings made more than 10 years ago during the Reagan era, said extensive work was being undertaken in such countries as Russia, France, Japan, China and India. Particularly worrisome were reports that the countries were focusing on developing hypersonic cruise missiles. The report said "hypersonic offers the promise of a unique set of capabilities and attributes that can dramatically expand and improve Air Force core competencies and mission." It ended by recommending that a national strategy be resurrected.




posted on Jun, 23 2004 @ 07:06 PM
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wow mach 10 thats NY to LA in 30min!



posted on Jun, 23 2004 @ 07:07 PM
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also what material are they using to withstand the heat??



posted on Mar, 19 2006 @ 10:02 PM
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Uppps its more rapidly than missile...



posted on Mar, 19 2006 @ 10:20 PM
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The front part of the plane is made from magnesium, while the rest is made up from different alloys.
Magnesium is the most resistant metal to heat.



posted on Mar, 19 2006 @ 10:56 PM
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Originally posted by carcharodon
The front part of the plane is made from magnesium, while the rest is made up from different alloys.
Magnesium is the most resistant metal to heat.



Ahhh.... no. The nose it made of *tungsten*. Probably a tungsten-molybdenum alloy, which is capable of withstanding very high temeprature. MAgnesium is *not* capable of taking high temperature. Plus, it's simply burst into flames, being a fairly combustible metal.

The other leading edges are, I believe, alrgely RCC structures.

You m ihtt have confused magnesium, which is an exteremely light material, with moly, which is an extremely *dense* material.



posted on Mar, 20 2006 @ 04:49 AM
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Originally posted by McSelo

Uppps its more rapidly than missile...


Whats your problem with that McSelo?

Justin





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