NASA’s Experimental X-43A Scramjet
NASA is planning to build hypersonic jets that will fly through the Earth’s atmosphere and slash flight times around the world to a few hours at most. New York to Sydney in 2:30 h!
The US space agency wants to manufacture a craft that would travel at five times the speed of sound and bring in a new age of aircraft akin to a turbo-charged Concorde.
Travelling at such speed would reduce the flight time from New York to Sydney to around two-and-a-half hours, from the 21 hours it is now.
The project is thought to be aimed at making a reusable aircraft that could fly to Mars but, as with previous space technology, it could have a huge impact upon passenger transport too.
Under the NASA Aeronautics 2010 proposal, the space agency will allocate $5million per year for the next three years to make the new aircraft a reality.
The aim is to create something which can carry passengers through the atmosphere, descend and land safely before being reused.
According to the proposal, engineers will look into ‘entry, descent and landing of high-mass vehicles entering into planetary atmospheres’ and ‘airbreathing access to space’
NASA is also aware of the many challenges it faces to build such a machine.
The proposal says: ‘The hypersonic heating environment, coupled with the emphasis on reusability, creates additional severe technology challenges for materials, material coatings, and structures that not only carry the aerodynamic loads of the air but also repeatedly sustain high thermal loads requiring long-life and durability while minimizing weight.
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