Discussion in 'Strategic Forces' started by LETHALFORCE, Feb 23, 2009.
original 200 sec flight video
Indian Rockets To Soon Use Atmospheric Oxygen As Fuel
In an attempt to make its rockets lighter and carry heavier satellites, the Indian space agency is planning to flight test by the end of this year its own air-breathing engine that will use atmospheric oxygen as fuel.
Air-breathing engines use atmospheric oxygen and burn it with the stored on-board fuel to generate the onward thrust.
Conventional rockets carry both oxygen and chemical fuel on board.
"We will be doing a series of ground tests of the air breathing engine soon. We are planning an actual launch of a sounding rocket - ATV D02 - powered by such an engine by the end of this year," an official of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) told IANS on condition of anonymity.
The rocket will fly from Sriharikota, India's rocket port located around 80 km from here.
In March, ISRO flew an advanced technology vehicle D01 (ATV-D01) weighing three tonnes from Sriharikota.
ATV-D01, the heaviest sounding rocket developed by ISRO, carried a passive scramjet (supersonic combustion ramjet) engine combustor module as a test bed for demonstration of air breathing propulsion technology.
A scramjet consists of a tube through which inlet air is compressed by the high speed of the vehicle, a chamber where fuel is combusted, and a nozzle through which the exhaust jet leaves at higher speed than the inlet air.
Jet engines use a compressor to squeeze air into the engine, then spray fuel into the compressed air and ignite it to produce thrust by funnelling it through the back.
The advantage of air breathing engine is that it makes the rocket lighter - as oxygen is not carried - enabling it to carry heavier satellites.
Further, it reduces the cost of launch and will help make ISRO a very cost competitive player in the global satellite launch industry.
However, as air breathing engine systems can operate only during the atmospheric phase of flight, they will have to be adapted along with the conventional chemical rockets
Pillai suggests joint Indo-German initiatives in aerospace
India has extended an invitation to Germany for joint collaborations in aeronautical engineering and space exploration. If the two countries work together they can establish their supremacy, according to chief of the BrahMos project Sivathanu Pillai.
Speaking at the seminar during the ILA Berlin Air Show 2010 in Germany on Wednesday Dr. Pillai said, â€œThe time has come for joint ventures between India and Germany in the fields of aeronautical engineering, space exploration mission and developing hypersonic reusable vehicles.â€
He gave the example of success achieved by the BRAHMOS supersonic cruise missile project carried out jointly by India and Russia. He expressed that India with growing economy could emerge as one of few countries with an ambitious space programmes and European countries could be part of it.
He added that both the countries have core competencies in the fields of aeronautics and space sciences and time is right for them to work together to surpass other players in the fields.
India was the partner country at the 2008 Berlin air show and this time the Defence Exhibition Organisation organized chalet for facilitating meetings of Indian officials and public sector companies.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has many ongoing and future plans. It is planning the Chandrayaan-2 mission to Moon, a human space flight mission and a mission to Mars among others and the country intends to invite partners in its ambitious programmes.
Flights of fancy at 8600km/h
The metre-long hypersonic air vehicle is launched.
IMAGINE boarding a plane in Sydney or Melbourne and stepping off in London just two hours later.
Or departing from the east coast at breakfast for a meeting in Perth and being back in time for lunch.
Until this week, such "blink-of-an-eye" travel times were the realm of science-fiction writers but - thanks to Australian and American defence scientists - "hypersonic" travel for the masses has taken a big step forward.
At the remote Woomera Test Range in the South Australian desert this month, a metre-long hypersonic air vehicle was successfully test-flown at more than seven times the speed of sound.
That is an incredible 8600km/h.
The Defence Science and Technology Organisation and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory teamed up to blast the test aircraft 300km into space and then send it hurtling back to Earth at blistering speed under controlled flight.
Emerging from a long flight to Canberra from Alice Springs via Sydney yesterday, Northern Territory-based Defence Science Minister Warren Snowdon said the prospect of such high-speed travel was "pretty damn attractive". "There's a way to go, but I'll be dreaming of it next time it takes me five hours to get home to Alice Springs from Canberra."
Hypersonic air travel would involve futuristic air vehicles criss-crossing the planet at four times the altitude of today's jets, at hypersonic velocity.
Chief of the DSTO's Air Vehicles Division Dr Ken Anderson said human hypersonic flight was the holy grail, but was a long way off.
"There has been lots of research and not much progress, and we are not exactly swimming in money," said the 59-year-old. "But hypersonics is very tantalising."
The Woomera flight was the first in a series of up to ten planned flight experiments under the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation scheme.
Scramjet with stamina ready for hypersonic test
In the last week of May, thousands of square miles of airspace above the Pacific Ocean will be cleared to make way for a skinny, shark-nosed aircraft called the X-51.
The 4-metre-long prototype will drop from beneath the wing of a bomber and attempt to become the first scramjet to punch through the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds for minutes, not seconds.
Like an airliner's jet engines, supersonic combustion ramjets â€“ or scramjets â€“ work by compressing air enough to ignite fuel which drives air out of the back of the engine to provide thrust. It is designed to work at hypersonic speeds â€“ above about 5 times the speed of sound.
A handful of experimental scramjets have flown successfully, reaching speeds as high as Mach 10, but not for long. "No one has successfully flown a vehicle of this nature for more than a few seconds," says Joe Vogel, X-51 programme manager at Boeing. "Our goal is about 300 seconds of powered flight."
The project is a collaboration between several US military agencies and private firms like Boeing that have ideas about how to solve the problems with heat and manoeuvrability that have limited previous scramjet flights.
At the test's top speed of Mach 6, the temperature of X-51's nose will reach 1480 Â°C, says Vogel. To handle the heat, the vehicle's fuel is piped through tubes around the surface of the engine. Not only does that draw off heat to prevent the engine from melting, it also helps warm the fuel to the temperature needed to ignite it.
The US air force hopes to conduct as many as four tests of the X-51 this year. In each, a vehicle will be dropped from beneath a B-52 bomber some 15 kilometres above the Pacific Ocean. A solid rocket booster at the back of the vehicle will ignite and accelerate the X-51 to 4.7 times the speed of sound.
That's fast enough for the craft's scramjet to kick in. The booster will fall away to let the X-51 fly under its own power until it runs out of fuel. "If we could recover it, the engine would basically be pristine and reusable," Vogel says.
The last US hypersonic scramjet to fly successfully was NASA's X-43, a hydrogen-powered engine that flew twice in 2004, managing only 10 seconds of powered flight. Unlike its predecessor, the X-51's engine uses novel active cooling systems and uses standard jet fuel.
Scramjets are touted as a cheap way to get most of the way into space because they don't require the bulky oxidisers needed to get conventional rockets into orbit. The X-51 is likely to advance that dream, says Mark Lewis of the University of Maryland in College Park. "It solves a lot of the practical issues you need to solve in order to make a real space vehicle."
Significant hurdles remain, though, not least that to reach orbit a scramjet would have to operate at roughly 25 times the speed of sound. In the short term, the X-51 is likely to pave the way for fast reconnaissance planes and mid-range missiles, Lewis says.
US Air Force scramjet test sees Spaceships in future
The Christian Science Monitor - 6/18/2010
A recent United States Air Force scramjet test has hinted at a future where hypersonic vehicles streak through the sky at many times the speed of sound around the world, and perhaps even open up access to space.
The experimental X-51A Waverider used a rocket booster and an air-breathing scramjet to reach a speed of Mach 5 and achieve the longest hypersonic flight ever powered by such an engine on May 26. That technology might not only deliver cargo quickly to different parts of the globe, but could also transform the space industry and spawn true space planes that take off and land from the same runway.
The wealth of possibilities offered by aerospace vehicles that can ride their own shockwaves likely explains why the project has drawn support from the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), NASA, and the U.S. Navy.
"We could have in the future such things as hypersonic weapons that fly 600 nautical miles in 10 minutes," said Charlie Brink, X-51A program manager with the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, during a June 1 teleconference. [Most destructive space weapon concepts.]
Scramjet engines can also eliminate the need for much of the huge oxidizer tanks carried by rockets, because the engines capture oxygen from the air to mix with the fuel while moving at hypersonic speeds. That would permit future space-lift systems or space planes to carry greater payloads and operate more efficiently, Brink said.
That concept naturally excites NASA, as the American space agency has continued to consult with the Air Force on the X-51A project, as well as the HIFiRE Flight 2 scramjet experiment.
"NASA would ultimately like to enable large vehicles for access to space using air-breathing propulsion," said James Pittman, principal investigator for NASA's hypersonics project at the NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia.
But first, military and civilian researchers will have to refine the scramjet engines that marks a significant break from past jet engine technologies.
A history of hypersonics
Lockheed's supersonic SR-71 Blackbird could reach speeds of Mach 3.2 during its operation from the 1960s until the late 1990s. The stealthy recon aircraft relied upon turbojet-assisted ramjet engines that compressed the flow of incoming air at high speeds, but slows down the airstream so that engine combustion takes place at subsonic speeds.
By contrast, scramjet designs allow for the airflow throughout the engine to continue traveling at supersonic speed. That raises the speed limit to hypersonic speeds of around Mach 5 or more.
The first flight tests of a hypersonic scramjet vehicle came from NASA's X-43A project, also known as Hyper-X. Its test flight reached Mach 6.8 in March 2004, before a following test flight hit Mach 9.6 in November 2004.
That's about 7,000 mph (11,265 kph), or three times faster than the SR-71.
The Air Force's X-51A Waverider has since drawn on many of the lessons from the X-43A, even if the newer experimental vehicle packs a more sophisticated and complex scramjet engine. The X-51A has claimed the longest scramjet burn during its 200-second flight test, but has yet to break the X-43A's speed record.
"Hyper-X provided a jumping off point for the X-51 program in many areas," said Kenneth Rock, head of the hypersonic air-breathing propulsion branch at NASA Langley.
Rock and his colleagues had already done many wind tunnel tests and computer simulations during the X-43A program, and found that the model data fit pretty well with the actual flight tests. That gave the X-51A program a confidence boost from knowing that there were fairly few unknowns not covered by modeling, Rock told SPACE.com.
The NASA researchers not only shared their experiences with the X-51A program, but also helped participated in an independent review of the ongoing Air Force project. They added some tips about how to streamline flight operations come testing time for X-51A, which flew a route not unlike what the X-43A had taken from the U.S. West Coast over the Pacific.
Rise of the space planes
If scramjet technology advances far enough, it could become part of a system that helps propel unmanned or manned vehicles into space. Space planes might even emerge that can fly into space at just about any time, without launch window constraints.
A scramjet-powered vehicle would need to rely upon a regular rocket or jet engine to reach Mach 4, so that the scramjet could take over for hypersonic speeds during the first stage to Earth orbit.
The X-51A scramjet engine would not be enough by itself to allow a vehicle to reach orbit, said Joseph Vogel, hypersonics director and X-51 program manager at Boeing Phantom Works/Defense, during the teleconference. Both Boeing and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne formed part of the private consortium that helped design and build the X-51A.
Any future space-lift system would also need a more energetic hydrogen-based fuel, rather than the JP-7 jet fuel used in supersonic aircraft, Vogel explained.
"I would say that within the next 15 to 30 years â€” I'll give you the broad side â€” but probably 15 to 20 years, you could start to see this technology being expanded to the point where you could get aircraft into outer space," Vogel said.
Improved space access represents the driving goal for partners such as NASA, according to Rock at NASA Langley. He added that flexible, on-demand access to space might also allow for even more space exploration opportunities.
"There are certainly operational constraints that have to be overcome, but we believe that this technology can enable missions that aren't possible today," Rock said.
Speeding into the future
Unsurprisingly, the move toward a hypersonic future has not gone perfectly at all times.
DARPA attempted to launch its own HTV-2 hypersonic glider prototype in late April, but lost contact with the vehicle early on in the flight.
Similarly, the Air Force's X-51A Waverider fell short of its intended goal of reaching Mach 6 and burning its scramjet engine for 300 seconds. Unusual readings had appeared throughout the flight, up until the X-51 mysteriously began losing speed and started tipping over toward the ocean.
The Air Force then terminated the vehicle three seconds after losing effective control, but emphasized that the scramjet engine itself had worked perfectly and was likely not at fault. It already has three more X-51 tests scheduled for later this year.
A growing number of hypersonic tests in the future could benefit from having several flexible corridors that could be cleared over the Western U.S., according to Lt. Col. Danny Millman, project pilot for the B-52 bomber that launched the X-51.
The Air Force has also been doing hypersonic tests over the Woomera Test Range in Australia as part of an international project that also involves NASA and Australian researchers.
At least the X-51A has shown enough early success so that the U.S. government should be encouraged to continue investing in scramjet technology, Vogel noted.
"But again, we'll need to fly the rest of these missions to show that the technology is truly viable, because people won't take for granted that you did it once and call it true technology proving," Vogel said.
Try this for a change: Pre-cooled jet engine.
Maybe its possible in India. But right now, Indians are struggling with the Cryogenic limited thrust engine. What we need here is to cool the air accepted from intake immediately. The Pre-cooled jet engine will require a lot of testing on large scale with many check-sums in between.
Also the ISRO is right now working on primarily space vehicles. The pre-cooled JET ENGINE will require clear roadmap with active co-operation from some specific advanced critical labs. Even use of such engine for military can be considered.
Here is detailed paper on The Scimitar Precooled Mach 5 Engine -
The advantage of Pre-Cooled engine is that the compressor and ducting after the inlet is subject to much lower temperatures, and hence may be made of light alloys. This greatly reduces the weight of the engine, which further improves the thrust/weight ratio....
X-51A Waverider Scramjet Passes Mach 5
Lockheed Martin announced today that its Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) rocket motor successfully boosted the experimental X-51A WaveRider beyond Mach 4.5, the speed at which a scramjet will start and begin to provide thrust. The successful boost helped the X-51 hypersonic scramjet engine to accelerate to a historic Mach 5, a first for the vehicle.
The X-51 WaveRider is an unmanned aerial vehicle designed for extended hypersonic flight durations. The successful boost with the ATACMS rocket motor will allow for future advancements in hypersonic flight.
In this test, the modified ATACMS motor was air-launched from a B-52 aircraft at 50,000 feet, and data collected validates its performance well beyond the original design specifications. This was the first time an ATACMS rocket motor has been used as a booster for an air-launched vehicle. More tests using the ATACMS motor are planned.
The modified motor included a Boeing designed lightweight, high performance exit cone which was produced by Aerojet, a GenCorp company, for Lockheed Martin. The program is managed by a Boeing and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne team for the U.S. Air Force and DARPA.
â€œThe ATACMS rocket motor has proved its power in combat, and now weâ€™re happy to see it performing a mission that advances hypervelocity flight technology,â€ said Scott Arnold, vice president of Precision Fires at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.
â€œWe are proud to have played a part in this new milestone in hypersonic flight and to have been given the opportunity to demonstrate our ability to modify existing motor designs for future applications,â€ said John Myers, vice president of Tactical Programs for Aerojet.
Aerojet is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader principally serving the missile and space propulsion, defense and armaments markets. GenCorp is a leading technology-based manufacturer of aerospace and defense products and systems with a real estate segment that includes activities related to the entitlement, sale, and leasing of the companyâ€™s excess real estate assets.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 136,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporationâ€™s 2009 sales from continuing operations were $44.5 billion.
Hypersonic ATACMS Motor Boosts Experimental Scramjet In First Flight
Lockheed Martin has announced that its Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) rocket motor successfully boosted the experimental X-51A WaveRider beyond Mach 4.5, the speed at which a scramjet will start and begin to provide thrust.
The successful boost helped the X-51 hypersonic scramjet engine to accelerate to a historic Mach 5, a first for the vehicle.
The X-51 WaveRider is an unmanned aerial vehicle designed for extended hypersonic flight durations. The successful boost with the ATACMS rocket motor will allow for future advancements in hypersonic flight.
In this test, the modified ATACMS motor was air-launched from a B-52 aircraft at 50,000 feet, and data collected validates its performance well beyond the original design specifications.
This was the first time an ATACMS rocket motor has been used as a booster for an air-launched vehicle. More tests using the ATACMS motor are planned.
The modified motor included a Boeing designed lightweight, high performance exit cone which was produced by Aerojet, a GenCorp [NYSE:GY] company, for Lockheed Martin. The program is managed by a Boeing and Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne team for the U.S. Air Force and DARPA.
"The ATACMS rocket motor has proved its power in combat, and now we're happy to see it performing a mission that advances hypervelocity flight technology," said Scott Arnold, vice president of Precision Fires at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.
"We are proud to have played a part in this new milestone in hypersonic flight and to have been given the opportunity to demonstrate our ability to modify existing motor designs for future applications," said John Myers, vice president of Tactical Programs for Aerojet.
Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV) Scramjet Technology Demonstrator (TD)
Air breathing engine for ISRO's reusable, two-stage-to-orbit (TSTO) concept
The Indian government gave ISRO the go ahead to develop a scramjet powered Winged Reusable Launch Vehicle Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) in 2004. The ATV-TD is part of the RLV-TD project and is aimed at developing a scramjet engine to power the second stage of the TSTO concept.
* ATV-DO1 - First Developmental Test Flight
* Ground Testing of Scramjet Engine
* ATV-D02 Second Developmental Test Flight
ATV-D01 on its launch pad
ATV-DO1 - First Developmental Test Flight
On Wednesday, March 3, ISRO conducted the first unpowered flight test of the Scramjet engine that it is developing under the RLV technology demonstrator program.
The test was conducted at Sriharikota space-port using a sounding rocket and described by ISRO as a complete success.
The Advanced Technology Vehicle ATV- D01 booster combination weighed 3 tons. The rocket reached an altitude of 46km in 120 seconds (two minutes) and the entire flight duration was 240 seconds (four minutes).
The booster accelerated the passive scramjet to Mach 6 and sustained Mach 6 +.05 and dynamic pressure (80 + 35 kPa) for seven seconds. These conditions are required for a stable ignition of active scramjet engine combustor module planned in the next flight of ATV.
ATV-D01 takes off
Ground Testing of Scramjet Engine
ISRO plans to do a series of ground tests of the air breathing engine before the planned year end launch of the ATV-D02.
"We will be doing a series of ground tests of the air breathing engine soon. We are planning an actual launch of a sounding rocket - ATV D02 - powered by such an engine by the end of this year," an official of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) told IANS on condition of anonymity on May 29, 2010.
ATV-D02 Second Developmental Test Flight
A second developmental test flight is planned by the end of 2010
DRDO developing hypersonic missile
CHENNAI: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is developing a hypersonic missile that could double up as a long-range cruise missile. Besides, it could be used for launching satellites at low cost, according to V.K. Saraswat, Chief Controller, R and D (Missiles and Strategic Systems), DRDO.
â€œThis is a niche technology being pursued by the DRDO today,â€ he said.
Missiles that fly at Mach 3 to 4 (three to four times the speed of sound) belong to high supersonic class. In the case of a hypersonic missile, it can fly at more than Mach 5.
The HSTDV (hypersonic technology demonstrator vehicle) was the new technology initiative of the DRDO. Dr. Saraswat said: â€œThe HSTDV project, through which we want to demonstrate the performance of a scram-jet engine at an altitude of 15 km to 20 km, is on. Under this project, we are developing a hypersonic vehicle that will be powered by a scram-jet engine. This is dual-use technology, which when developed, will have multiple civilian applications. It can be used for launching satellites at low cost. It will also be available for long-range cruise missiles of the future.â€
In scram-jet technology, combustion of fuel takes place in a chamber in the missile at supersonic Mach numbers. This is different from a ram jet system where the system collects the air it needs from the atmosphere during the flight, rams it inside and the propellants burn in the combustion chamber.
The DRDO would work on long-range cruise missiles of the sub-sonic variety, which cannot be detected by enemy radars and observation systems. They would have stealth materials and a control and guidance system that would enable them to fly at less than one km altitude. â€œWe are building all these technologies now,â€ Dr. Saraswat said.
The DRDO would also concentrate on building missiles that would have multiple roles â€“ a single missile would have precision-guided submunitions that would attack multiple targets instead of a single target.
â€œAstra, a potent weaponâ€
Avinash Chander, Programme Director of Agni-III ballistic missile that was successfully test-fired on Wednesday, said air-to-air missile Astra, which could engage and destroy manoeuvring aerial targets, was now under development. â€œAstra will be a potent weapon when it is integrated with the Indian Air Forceâ€™s Sukhoi-30, Mirage and the Light Combat Aircraft.â€
The propulsion systems of Agni-III can be augmented to increase its range from 3,500 km to more than 5,000 km. â€œThis capability, which can be developed within a short time, puts our country in the category of top five nations in the world and it gives us a deep strike capability, meeting our regional requirements,â€ said Mr. Chander.
Hypersonic Flight and Ground Testing Activities in India: AVATAR & HSTDV
TSTO Flight Profile of AVATAR :
Scramjet Combustor of HSTDV:
Rest details in the following paper -
india is developing a civil as well as military space vehicle the AVATAR
the civil variant will carry satalites and will be used to build space labs in future (RLV)
the military varient for future N mission and will be used to deploy weapons in space (HSTDV)
U.K. predicts 'spaceplane' in 10 years
U.K. predicts 'spaceplane' in 10 years
British engineers say they believe spacecraft taking off from an ordinary airport runway and carrying tourists into space might be a reality in 10 years.
A British company, Reaction Engines Ltd., is developing a spaceplane it says will travel five times the speed of sound and carry up to 24 passengers and up to 12 tons of cargo into space, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.
The unpiloted craft would take off from an airport runway and use its two hydrogen/oxygen engines to propel it more than 18 miles into space.
Each mission of the $1 billion spaceplane would cost about $10 million.
Officials of the U.K. Space Agency, which is supporting Reaction Engine's research, say it could replace NASA's Space Shuttle to transport supplies and astronauts to the International Space Station.
"Access to space is extraordinarily expensive, yet there's no law of physics that says it has to be that way," said Richard Varvill, technical director and one of the founders of Reaction Engines.
"We're talking a bit of science fiction now," he said, "but in theory there's nothing that stops you going out (into space)."
Hyperplanes for future space missions
Hyperplanes are multipurpose, fully reusable aerospace vehicles used for passenger or freight transport as well as satellite launching. The era of hyperplanes began with the development of X planes.
Boeing X-51A WaveRider.
The rocket powered Bell X1 flown in 1947 was the beginning of supersonic era of flights. In 1960â€™s during cold war America developed XB-7O Valkyrie. It could fly at Mach 3.08 and achieve an altitude of 74,000 ft.
The Soviets also developed a plane similar to XB -70 - Su T4. The T-4, also called S100first flew in 1972 and easily achieved Mach 1.28 at 12,000m. The North American X-15 rocket-powered aircraft set speed and altitude records in the early 1960s, reaching the edge of outer space and returning with valuable data used in aircraft and spacecraft design.
The usefulness of the technology is that they can be used as reusable satellite launchers which could replace costly rocket missions and allow seamless entry to space.
The key enabling technology for hyper planes is scramjet engines which uses air breathing engine technology
. It requires a booster rocket which will give it the supersonic velocity required for scramjet operation.
The hyperplanes require normal jet engines for horizontal take off, then a rocket to boost the velocity and a scramjet to sustain the hypersonic speed. They can take-off from any conventional airport.
To exit the atmosphere and park in Low Earth Orbit, a spacecraft must attain a speed of Mach 26(ouch), where it can either deliver payload which can be a satellite or even another vehicle that will travel further.
In defence fields, hyperplanes can be used for invincible spy planes and strategic bombers. USAF projects like the Hypersoar are hypersonic craft (Mach 10).
Many nations including United States, Russia and India are working on hyperplane technology. The only successful hypersonic flight was shown by X-43 of USA. The hyperplane Avatar being developed by India is expected to be used as a reusable missile launcher.
AVATAR is a single-stage reusable rocket plane developed by DRDO and ISRO for launching satellites at extremely low cost and taking tourists on rides into space.
Avatar will use a combination of turbofan, ramjet and scramjet engines to reach a cruising altitude of 10 kilometres before a cryogenic rocket engine takes over for the final push into space. Avatar is currently in the prototype testing stage. DRDO plans to build and fly a scaled-down version of Avatar, weighing just 3 tonnes at takeoff.
X-43 - In November, 2004, the X-43A demonstrated an advanced form of air-breathing jet engine could power an aircraft nearly 10 times the speed of sound. Data from the unpiloted, 12-foot-long research vehicle show its revolutionary engine worked successfully at Mach 9.6 (approximately 7,000 mph), as it flew over the Pacific Ocean west of California. The flight was the culmination of NASA's Hyper-X Program which explored alternatives to rocket power for space access vehicles.
BOEING X-51A - During its first flight test in May 2010, after being dropped from a B-52, the solid rocket ATACMS booster ignited and took the X-51A WaveRider to approximately Mach 4.5 at which point the scramjet engine took-over and accelerated the vehicle to a flight speed of approximately Mach 5.0 for approximately 200 seconds. The test was the longest of its kind, beating the previous record of 10 seconds set by the X-41.
BLACKSWIFT- A joint project between the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the United States Air Force (USAF), built to take off from a runway and accelerate to Mach 6 before completing its mission and landing again. The project did not receive needed funding and was cancelled in October 2008.
Darpa: Now We Know Why Our Mach-20 Ship Crashed
t took six months, but the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency finally has a handle on what caused its hypersonic weapon prototype to â€œterminateâ€ itself over the Pacific Ocean back in April. The findings have paved the way for a fresh round of tests for the Mach-20 flier, potentially leading to a new class of superfast weapons.
The Hypersonic Test Vehicle 2 â€” a 12-foot, 2,000-pound wedge packing a three-stage Minotaur booster â€” launched without incident from California on April 22. It climbed to the edge of space for a planned 30-minute, 4,000-mile jaunt toward Kwajalein in the middle of the Pacific.
But nine minutes into the flight, controllers on the ground lost contact with the HTV-2. The culprit, according to Darpaâ€™s Engineering Review Board? â€œHigher-than-predicted yaw, which coupled into roll, thus exceeding the available control capability at the time of the anomaly.â€
In other words, the HTV wobbled too much. Rather than risking an out-of-control flight, the bot self-destructed. On the bright side, according to a chipper Darpa release, the failed test â€œdemonstrated successfully the first-ever use of an autonomous flight-termination system.â€
Lockheed built two HTV-2 test vehicles, but Darpa held off on further flights until engineers could say for sure what killed the first HTV. Now the agency is ready to try again, with a few tweaks. â€œEngineers will adjust the vehicleâ€™s center of gravity, decrease the angle of attack flown, and use the on-board reaction-control system to augment the vehicle flaps when HTV-2 flies next summer.â€
Time was, Pentagon planners anticipated adapting HTV into a weapon capable of striking any target in the world within minutes of launch from a base in the United States. With that ambition running afoul of (very sensible) diplomatic concerns, planners instead envisioned using hypersonic technology in a new, superfast bomber.
Now itâ€™s clear the Pentagon wants a less-ambitious bomber similar to models already in service. So instead, HTV-2 and its ilk are likely to lead to a new generation of missiles that can be carried by todayâ€™s manned planes.
But first, HTV needs to fly a full test circuit without wobbling â€” and self-terminating.
Falcon is Healthy, Few Tweaks will Suffice to Fly the next Mission in Late 2011
The Falcon HTV-2 hypervelocity vehicle could glide at a speed at Mach 20, reaching
targets 4,000 nautical miles away in 30 minutes. Image: DARPA
Six months after the first test flight of the Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicleâ€™s (HTV-2) which failed to meet its objective, an independent Engineering Review Board (ERB) identified the anomaly that caused the vehicle to exceeding the design flight control envelope. â€œNo major changes to the vehicle or software are required to mitigate the first flight anomalyâ€ said David Neyland, DARPA Tactical Technology Office director, â€œEngineers will adjust the vehicleâ€™s center of gravity, decrease the angle of attack flown and use the onboard reaction control system to augment the vehicle flaps when HTV-2 flies next summerâ€ Neyland added.
DARPA is planning to repeat the test in late 2011 trying to complete a 30 minute hypersonic flight at speeds reaching Mach 20, covering about 3,000 nautical miles over the Pacific Ocean. The first flight was terminated prematurely, about 9 minutes after launch.
Detailed analysis conducted by the ERB revealed that the most probable cause of the HTV-2 flight anomaly was higher-than-predicted yaw, which coupled into roll thus exceeding the available control capability at the time of the anomaly. â€œThe HTV-2 flight anomaly is characterized as a slow divergence about the longitudinal axis (in roll) which continued until the roll rate reached a threshold where the autonomous flight system commanded flight termination.â€ The report explained. The review acknowledges data on the relevant aerodynamic parameters for this specific flight regime were limited.
Despite the early termination of flight, DARPA claims the first flight demonstrated significant accomplishments in the area of hypersonic flight. During the most challenging segment of flight, before the flight terminated, HTV-2 transmitted telemetry data on aerothermal, aerodynamic, thermal protection, navigation, guidance and control in the hypersonic flight regime â€“ all critical areas of interest to the program. The flight also demonstrated successfully the first ever use of an autonomous flight termination system. Additionally, the flight represented the inaugural launch of the Minotaur IV booster. The booster demonstrated the ability to fly at extreme angles of attack up to 89 degrees to meet stringent release requirements for the HTV-2.
When developed into mature weapon systems, Falcon type vehicles could introduce new category of weapon enabling a rapid reaction global strike capability against time critical threats, employing platforms that could not be confused by Russia or China as intercontinental ballistic missiles, thus triggering offensive response by other nuclear powers.
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