The next big leap in space travel will use hypersonic planes

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Scramjets capable of flying at Mach 15 will make it easier and cheaper to send spacecraft and people into orbit, says hypersonics expert Michael Smart.

Sending satellites, spacecraft and humans into space is an expensive business. If humanity wants to venture further across the Solar System, we need ways of reducing the cost. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to make the vehicles we use to launch missions into space reusable.

Michael Smart, chair of hypersonic propulsion at the University of Queensland, believes hypersonic planes are the solution. He spent 10 years designing hypersonic engines called scramjets for Nasa before establishing his own research group, which now works with the Australian Department of Defence, Science and Technology and the US Air Force.

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Emerging Technologies May Fuel NASA’s Revolutionary Spacecraft Launcher

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A potential design for a rail-launched aircraft and spacecraft that could revolutionize the launch business.

As if launching a shuttle flanked by massive booster rockets that peel away as it ascends isn’t hardcore enough, NASA is looking into building a next gen spacecraft delivery system. Better still, the agency contends that the tech behind it could improve all our lives.

 

 

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Experimental ‘Scramjet’ Sets Hypersonic Speed Record

X-51A WaveRider hypersonic flight test vehicle

Here’s the scramjet being loaded onto a B-52.

Arcing through the hazy air above California, this is the incredible sight of a scramjet as it flies at six times the speed of sound.

The experimental aircraft set a record for hypersonic flight, blazing through the air for more than three minutes at Mach 6, or more than 4,500 mph.

The X-51A Waverider scramjet was released from a B-52 bomber last week before its engine took it to Mach 6 and it flew autonomously for 200 seconds.

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