Stratolaunch Reveals Hypersonic Testbed Concepts
Guy Norris, for Aviation Week:
Two baseline vehicles are under study, one a direct scale-up of the other. The smaller of the two, Hyper-A, is targeted at tests up to Mach 6 and is around 28 ft. long with a span of 11 ft, making it around twice the size of NASA’s pioneering X-43A hypersonic experimental craft. With an identical planform to its larger, follow-on derivative, the Hyper-Z, the reusable vehicle would be autonomous and capable of landing and taking off from a runway, as well as being air-dropped from the Stratolaunch aircraft.
A 3.5-ft.-long model has been tested in the 4 x 4-ft. subsonic wind tunnel at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, to provide initial data on characteristics for approach and landing. “We are setting up to do some high-speed tests at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center’s tri-sonic facility next month at speeds up to Mach 5,” Corda says.
Assuming studies are successful, Stratolaunch says the initial Hyper-A could make its first flight as early as 2020, with tests of the Hyper-Z following as little as five years later.
Still has the vibe of a solution in search of a problem, but I continually like the theory that Stratolaunch is the Glomar Explorer of aerospace.