A Look at SpaceX’s and Virgin Galactic’s Hypersonic Plans

I found this video entertaining. I’m not sure this guy has any grasp of the technological challenges or how SpaceX and Virgin Galactic are trying to tackle it.

He also calls a pair of routine pilot proficiency flights of WhiteKnightTwo at Spaceport America mysterious. Nothing really unusual about them. They conducted these flights at Mojave regularly.

Hypersonic sounds great, but it’s not clear when or if it will carry passengers. What we might be left with are hypersonic weapons indistinguishable from nuclear missiles. The chance of an accidental nuclear exchange could become much greater.

Stratolaunch Unveils Hypersonic Test Beds, Space Vehicle

Talon A hypersonic vehicle (Credit: Stratolaunch)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Stratolaunch has unveiled a pair of hypersonic test bed vehicles and a reusable spacecraft the company plans to launch from its giant dual fuselage airplane.

“Talon-A is a fully reusable, autonomous, liquid rocket-powered Mach 6-class hypersonic vehicle with a length of 28 feet (8.5 m), wingspan of 11.3 feet (3.4 m), and a launch weight of approximately 6,000 pounds (2,722 Kg),” the company’s website said.

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Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Goes Public With Extravagant Promises to Keep

Richard Branson wears the SpaceShipTwo flight suit. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

After 15 years of making extravagant but unkept promises to fly more than 600 “future astronauts” to space, Richard Branson must now please an entirely new group of people who are usually much shorter on patience: shareholders.

Following the completion last week of a merger with Social Capital Hedosophia (SCH), the British billionaire’s Virgin Galactic suborbital “space line” will begin trading under its own name on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Monday.

Going public now is an unusual move for a space tourism company that hasn’t flown a singlet tourist to space since Branson announced the SpaceShipTwo program in 2004. Some might see it has putting the cart before the horse.

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Hypersonic Transports Eyed for Military Deployments

Pentagon envisions spaceship troops
USA Today

“The Pentagon wants to rocket troops through space to hot spots anywhere on the globe within two hours, and planners spent two days last month discussing how to do it, military documents show.”

“Some critics are skeptical. The concept defies physics and the reality of what a small number of lightly armed troops could accomplish in enemy territory, said John Pike, a military analyst who runs Globalsecurity.org. ‘This isn’t even science fiction,’ Pike said. ‘It’s fantasy.’

“Private rocket pioneer Burt Rutan says the plan is technologically possible. ‘This has never been done,’ Rutan said in an e-mail. ‘However, it is feasible. It would be a relatively expensive way to get the troops on the ground, but it could be done.'”











Hypersonic Travel Moves Closer to Reality

X-51A Scramjet Engine Completes Ground Tests
Aviation Week

A year from now, over the Pacific Ocean off California in airspace cleared of all civilian traffic, hypersonics could take a step closer to reality. In the same skies where five years earlier the X-43A Hyper-X flew for 10 sec. at Mach 9.6, powered by a supersonic-combustion ramjet, the X-51A WaveRider is planned to fly on scramjet power for 5 min., accelerating from Mach 4.7 to beyond Mach 6 and demonstrating that sustained hypersonic flight is practical.

Boeing’s X-51A and its Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) scramjet can trace their roots back 20 years to the X-30 National AeroSpace Plane, an overambitious and unsuccessful attempt to build a Mach 30 single-stage-to-orbit technology demonstrator. The X-51A’s goals are far more modest, but it could lead directly to development of a hypersonic long-range strike missile. It would also be a step closer to an eventual air-breathing space access vehicle.











Australia’s Grollo Aerospace Aims for Hypersonic Passenger Flights, Orbital Vehicles

Mark Grollo races to space
The Herald Sun

Grollo Aerospace hopes to demonstrate a high-speed, high-altitude vehicle within five years. It plans to sell its technology overseas and hopes to eventually construct and operate space vehicles.

“We’d like to be at a stage where we are launching vehicles from Woomera,” Mark Grollo said. “But the ultimate goal is to have vehicles which take off from the standard runway and enter orbit. That’s the ultimate goal agencies all over the world are trying to achieve.”
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There’s more in Grollo Aerospace’s submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Economics.  The document that discusses the company’s work on an advanced wave rider technology.

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NASA Hypersonic Test Rocket Destroyed After Launch

NASA Destroys Rocket Shortly After Launch at Wallops Island
Hampton Roads Virginia Pilot

“An experimental rocket carrying $17 million worth of NASA experiments was destroyed early Friday morning after it veered off course soon after launch from the Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore.

“Explosive charges on the nose of the rocket were detonated by NASA about 27 seconds after the 5:10 a.m. launch.”

NASA and ATK Investigate Failed Launch Of Hypersonic Experiment
NASA Press Release

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. — An Alliant Techsystems suborbital rocket carrying two NASA hypersonic experiments was destroyed by range safety officials shortly after liftoff from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia Friday. No injuries or property damage were reported.

Most debris from the rocket is thought to have fallen in the Atlantic Ocean. However, there are conflicting reports of debris being sighted on land. This debris could be hazardous. People who think they may have encountered rocket debris are advised not to touch it and to report it to the Wallops Emergency Operations Center at 757-824-1300.

NASA is very disappointed in this failure but has directed its focus on protecting public safety and conducting a routine confirmation of the effectiveness of its range safety operations. NASA has a response team in the field. Alliant Techsystems, also known as ATK, of Salt Lake City, is conducting the investigation of the rocket malfunction. NASA will consult with ATK and support the investigation.











Hypersonic Test Set to Blast off From Wallops on Friday

The next big thing in rocket power
The Virginian-Pilot

“A 5-in-1 experiment on hypersonic flight and rocket design is scheduled to launch early Friday from Wallops Island, carrying NASA and Navy payloads.

“The 10-minute flight, expected to reach 200 nautical miles in height, will end in the Atlantic Ocean. Information recorded during flight will last much longer, contributing to the development of jet-powered vehicles that can fly up to seven or eight times the speed of sound, or about 5,280 mph.”