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X-43A Hypersonic Experimental Vehicle Replacing the shuttle?

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posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 09:51 PM
So I was thinking, the shuttle has seven flights left. What does NAZA have planned as a replacement? They have been bragging about the X43 on their site could they finally be unveiling the infamous "black flying triangle UFO"?

Hyper-X, the flight vehicle for which is designated as X-43A, 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. This multiyear program is currently underway at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California. The Hyper-X schedule calls for its first flight later this year (2000).
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.

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.

[edit on 15-7-2009 by JulieMills]

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 10:39 PM
so where are all the spaceflight gurus when you need them?

posted on Jul, 16 2009 @ 12:01 AM
This could be some of what people are seeing as a UFO, but I do not think that it all that are seen.

As some of the craft just float by with no sound, and some just come to a stop in the sky and hover. Both of that type of flight cannot be done by a scram jet aircraft.

And the sonic wave and huge sound that this craft would make, well if it was low enough anyway would be a big give away.


posted on Jul, 16 2009 @ 08:41 AM
reply to post by JulieMills

The Orion spacecraft is what's planned to replace the Shuttle. But the US military is working on an unmanned shuttle of there own. The scaled test version is called the X-37. But it's far from operational. I don't think the X-43 is meant to be developed into a Shuttle, but the air breathing engines may be used to help get future Shuttles and other things into orbit, but not to go into orbit itself.

posted on Jul, 16 2009 @ 08:47 AM
To get people into LOE (low Earth orbit) and to the Space Station (or future space stations) NASA is developing the Orion CEV (crew exploration vehicle) launch on top of an Ares I rocket. The Orion is also the capsule (in a different configuration) that will take people to the Moon by 2020.

Ares I

To get large cargo into space (such as big satellites, parts of a space station, equipment for a Moon mission, or equipment for a manned Mars Mission), NASA is developing the Ares V rocket.

Ares V

NASA plans to first use the Ares V as the vehicle to launch the necessary equipment into space to go to the moon (the command module and lunar lander).This is different than Apollo where all of the equipment was launched on a single Saturn V. The equipment for the next manned Moon missions will be lauched separately -- the crew/crew capsule in the Ares I, and the command module and lunar lander in the unmanned Ares V. They will dock in Earth's orbit before going to the Moon.

Also, NASA is getting private industry involved in launching equipment into LEO and to the Space Station through the COTS (Commercial Orbital Transport Services) program. NASA is hoping that private industry will be able to launch supplies -- and eventually humans -- to the Space Station.

So far two companies -- SpaceX and Orbital Sciences -- are proceeding to build spacecraft under the COTS program

C.O.T.S. Wikipedia Article
C.O.T.S. Program pdf File

These may not be as "sexy" as a space plane, but NASA's experience with the shuttle program has shown that traditional rockets may more efficient for launching cargo, and is definitely safer for launching humans.

[edit on 7/16/2009 by Soylent Green Is People]

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