NASA Pulls X-34 Hypersonic Test Vehicles Out of Storage

Absent their vertical tails, the two X-34 aircraft were convoyed from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center to the north gate of Edwards Air Force Base via Rosamond Boulevard Tuesday morning, and then overnight on Highway 58 to the Mojave Air and Spaceport Wednesday. (Credit: NASA Dryden/Tony Landis)

NASA PROGRAM UPDATE

The two X-34 hypersonic research aircraft developed by Orbital Sciences Corp. to serve as flight demonstrators for a NASA rocket engine technology development program in the mid-1990s were transported overland via truck from NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base to the Mojave Air and Spaceport Nov. 16-17. The two technology demonstrators will be stored temporarily at a hangar operated by the National Test Pilot School while undergoing inspections by Orbital Sciences personnel to determine if they are viable for flight.

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PopSci’s Best List includes Xombie, Falcon 9, X-37B and Waverider

X-51 Waverider

Popular Science‘s “Best of What’s New 2010” list includes four projects that we have been closely following here at Parabolic Arc:

Congratulations to all the winners!

DARPA IDs Flaw in Falcon HTV-2, Will Test Again Next Year

DARPA Falcon hypersonic technology vehicle (HTV)

DARPA PRESS RELEASE

Following an extensive six-month review, the independent Engineering Review Board (ERB) chartered to examine data collected during the Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle’s (HTV-2) first flight has completed its review. The ERB concluded that the anomaly resulted from flight control authority limitations to operate at the angle of attack the vehicle was programmed to fly for the speed and altitude of the flight.

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NASA Studies Railway Scramjet Mag Lev Booster Contraptions

Railway to the Sky? NASA Ponders New Launch System
Space.com

Imagine this: A wedge-shaped aircraft attached to a supersonic jet engine is hurtling along an electrified track, carrying a pod or spacecraft destined for orbit. Sound farfetched? It may not be.

A team of engineers from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and some of the agency’s other field centers are looking into this and other novel launch systems based on cutting-edge technologies.

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The American Military’s Bewildering Hypersonics Effort

X-51 Waverider

Toward the end of a long article about the Pentagon’s effort to achieve Prompt Global Strike capability, reporter Sharon Weinberger looks at the military’s multiple ventures into the realm of hypersonics:

An alternative to the conventionally armed land-based ICBM is a hypersonic weapon, essentially a cruise missile capable of traveling at many times the speed of sound-faster than anything in today’s conventional arsenal. These missiles would not have to leave the Earth’s atmosphere and would have very different trajectories from ICBMs, so Russia would be less likely to mistake them for nuclear weapons.

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Russo-Indian Collaboration Eyes Hypersonic Cruise Missile by 2015

The Asian Age reports on a recent Mach 3 test of India’s BrahMos cruise missile. However, India is hoping the BrahMos-II successor will do much more:

The BrahMos could be a laggard when India will become the first country to have cruise missiles that can fly at hypersonic speeds of over 6,000 km per hour. As an agreement for their joint development will be signed with Russia during the visit of the Russian President, Mr Dmitry Medvedev, in December.

The speed of the existing variant of BrahMos is half than that of the proposed ones. The hypersonic missiles are expected to be ready by 2015-16, the sources said.

Read the full story.

Russia’s Answer to Hypersonic Kill Vehicles: Laser Beams

DARPA Falcon hypersonic technology vehicle (HTV)

If the United States succeeds in developing conventional hypersonic weapons systems, Russia will be ready. The Voice of Russia reports that Col. Viktor Dvoinov, second in command of air defenses for the country’s ground forces, told a Moscow radio station on Saturday that the military will have a powerful laser defense system in place against hypersonic vehicles by 2015.

DARPA Close to Completing Investigation into HTV-2 Failure

Falcon hypersonic technology vehicle (HTV)

Global Security Newswire reports that defense officials are close to finishing their investigation into the failure of the HTV-2 hypersonic vehicle on April 22:

A Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency review board “is in the last phases of its internal review” of the Hypersonic Test Vehicle-2’s maiden flight test and should report out in “the next month or so,” Zachary Lemnios said at a breakfast session with reporters this morning. “When that review board finishes their work, we’ll come out with a statement on exactly what’s happened.”

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Lockheed Rocket Motor Helped X-51 Hit Mach 5

X-51 Waverider

LOCKHEED MARTIN PRESS RELEASE

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.

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China Builds Hypersonic Wind Tunnel for Space Plane Development

China builds hypersonic wind tunnel to develop spaceplane
China Defense Mashup

Chinese Inner Mongolia North Heavy Industries Group recently announced that the group has successfully provided the key element of “JF12 Shockwave Hypersonic wind tunnel”, which is the most advanced and creative project in world Hypersonic research area. “JF12 Shockwave Hypersonic wind tunnel” is being constructed for the initiation of China’s future spaceplane project. JF12 Windtunnel is mainly designed by the Institute of Mechanics, CAS (Chinese Academy of Science).

Debate Over U.S. Military’s Hypersonic First-Strike Technology

Spate of Hypersonic Vehicle Tests Fuels Global Strike Debate
National Defense Magazine

The military’s reusable space plane, the X-37B, and its classified payload lifted off in April only one day after the maiden flight of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2 suborbital glider. It flew nine minutes before operators lost its signal and were forced to abort the mission.

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Hypersonic Future: Superfast Weapons and Access to Space

X-51A Waverider

Air Force Sees Hypersonic Weapons and Spaceships in Future
Space.com

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.

Read the full story.

Tumlinson and Horowitz on The Space Show The Week

The Space Show’s schedule for this week:

Monday, June 14, 2010, 2-3:30 PM PDT: We welcome back Rick Tumlinson to discuss the proposed new U.S. space policy and more.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010, 7- 8:30 PM PDT: OPEN LINES. All topics welcome for discussion.

Friday, June 18, 2010, 9:30-11:00 AM PDT: Dr. Scott “Doc” Horowitz joins us to discuss NASA and U.S. space policy.

Sunday, June 20 , 12-1:30 PM PDT. The Space Show welcomes Joseph Vogel, Director of Hypersonics for Boeing and the program manager for the X-51A.