A Low Cost Modular Approach to Flight Testing of Hypersonic Systems
ABSTRACT: Airbreathing hypersonic weapon systems utilizing ramjet/scramjet and/or combined cycle engines will open the door to many new capabilities for the warfighter. Applications include systems ranging from small tactical hypersonic missiles, hypersonic intelligence, surveillance & reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft, to upper stages for responsive space access launch vehicles. ACENT Laboratories and proposal teammates ATK and Kratos Rocket Support Services have a strong history in the area of hypersonic airbreathing flight testing and propose to develop a Low Cost Modular Approach to Flight Testing of Hypersonic Systems. The proposed architecture will have the following basic attributes: 1) A modular airframe structural core with known load capabilities and standard interfaces to accommodate required subsystems (internally) and to attach variable aero and propulsion configurations and thermal protection systems, 2) Flight-proven designs for major subsystems to reduce time and cost to flight with interfaces and processes to allow rapid integration of new/updated subsystems as needed, and 3) Pre-cleared trajectories and booster sets for different size and weight class payloads. These and other similar attributes will reduce time and cost to flight for new payload with the goal of achieving first flight in approximately two years from project start for a cost in the range of $5M. BENEFIT: The saleable product resulting from this research will be a low cost marketable test and evaluation capability not readily available for ramjet/scramjet powered vehicles. The traditional approach to full-scale hypersonic engine development often begins with subscale component development ground tests leading to full-scale engine ground testing prior to full-scale flight-testing. Moving from subscale to full-scale or ground to flight both incur significant costs. Our modular low cost flight test technique will permit developers of hypersonic propulsion systems to flight test their vehicle and/or engine in sub-scale early in the developmental cycle to assess thrust and operability performance among other things. In a synergistic application with computational simulations and ground testing, this crucial flight data will provide a clear path to full-scale flight testing and development with reduced risk and cost. In addition, our modular system could allow testing at more than one scale by moving up in booster class to determine any scale effects early in the program. Our primary target market for this test capability product is the developmental programs for hypersonic airbreathing propulsion systems that have recently started or will be starting. Expansion of the applicability of the technology beyond hypersonic airbreathing propulsion is a natural extension of this effort. Many technical areas including aerodynamic decelerators, re-entry vehicles, and other non-propulsion fields will benefit from the results of this modular design architecture and these customers will be actively pursued.
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ACENT Laboratories LLC
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