Interview: Kimberly Slater of Draper Laboratory Discusses the Challenges of Hypersonic Flight

Kimberly Slater (Credit: Draper Laboratory)

by David Bullock
Staff Writer

Parabolic Arc conducted a Q&A with Kimberly Slater, the Commercial and Science Space Lead at Draper Laboratory, about the guidance, navigational and control software she has worked on for Stratolaunch’s Talon-A hypersonic test vehicle.

Tell me a little about yourself, your engineer and career background and how you got to work for Draper.

Right now I currently lead our civil commercial science space work at Draper, but my history before Draper was all in human space flight. My engineering degree is in man machine interface design. And everything I did before Draper was building, developing, testing, and flying scientific experiments on the space shuttle and space station. So, I did everything from design and build to writing software, writing the interface training manuals to the software—the procedure that the astronauts use on orbit—and then I did crew training for both the American and Russian crew for both space station and shuttle and then mission support and then mission control centers in both Moscow and Houston to support the mission. You know that whole ‘Houston we have a problem’ question when things on orbit and any anomaly has happened during that real time fast paced mission support. 

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AFRL/AFOSR Conducts Successful Rocket Launch at NASA Wallops for Hypersonic Research

AFRL/AFOSR BOLT II Rocket launching from NASA/Wallops Flight Facility on March 21, 2022. (Credit: NASA/Wallops/Brian Bonsteel)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL PR) – The BOLT II “In memory of Mike Holden” flight experiment, managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory/Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFRL/AFOSR), launched on the evening of March 21 from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Dr. Michael Holden, who, up until his passing in 2019, had been a leader in the hypersonics field since the 1960s. The flight experiment successfully flew the planned flight path and acquired tremendous scientific data to further our understanding of boundary layer transition, turbulent heating, and drag at hypersonic conditions.

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AFRL/AFOSR to Conduct Sound Rocket Launch at NASA Wallops for Hypersonics Research

Sounding rocket lifts off from Wallops Flight Facility. (Credit: NASA/Allison Stancil-Ervin)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – A launch of a two-stage suborbital sounding rocket for the Air Force Research Laboratory/Air Force Office of Scientific Research’s BOLT II flight experiment is set to take place the evening of March 21 at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Live coverage of the launch will be provided on NASA Wallops YouTube channel. Officials at NASA Wallops project the launch to be visible anywhere from 10 to 120 seconds from parts of seven states: Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia as well as Washington, D.C.

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IT’S ALIVE! Stratolaunch’s Roc Aircraft Flies for First Time in 2 Years

Stratolaunch overhead (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Flight signals revival of giant airplane, which will focus on launching hypersonic test vehicles.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

For the first time in 2 years 16 days, Stratolaunch’s massive Roc aircraft roared down the runway at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California and soared into in clear blue sky on only its second ever flight test.

Roc took off at 7:31 a.m. PDT time, trailing a giant cloud of dust stirred up by its six jet engines and giant 385-ft long wings that hung out over the desert scrub brush. The aircraft flew over the Mojave Desert for more than three hours as a crowd that had gathered for takeoff watched.

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