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Advanced Propulsion for Gun Launched Projectiles and Missiles: Phase 1 - Low Cost Flight Test Platform Development

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Final rept. 22 Jul 2008-30 Jul 2009

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Flight testing is a crucial step in the development of scramjet engines. The extremely wide operating margin of scramjets necessitates an extensive number of flight tests to accomplish technology transition, and commercialization goals. Current flight test methods consume enormous amounts of time and money due in large part to technical complexity. Time and funding limitations severely restrict the number of flight tests conducted. This greatly impedes the advancement of technology, and limits the flight experience of the designer. These flight testing constraints result in the increased demand that each flight yields as much data as possible. The imperative need for flight data ultimately drives the growth of technical complexity, which increases the risk of failure. Development of a low-cost flight test platform to investigate ramjet and scramjet flow-path performance would serve as a stepping-stone between ground testing and traditional flight testing, and would play a vital role the development of hypersonic air-breathing propulsion systems. By focusing on flow-path performance and characteristics, many flight systems, including guidance and control, can be eliminated from the vehicle. This approach will significantly reduce technical complexity and cost, resulting in many more flight tests that will provide substantial data available for verifying ground testing and computational methods used to design scramjet engines. This walk before you run concept will begin with vertical trajectory flight tests in the lower ramjet operating range, followed by future flight tests conducted at hypersonic speeds. This progressive approach will address industry needs through the systematic increase of flight Mach, in conjunction with methodical growth in technical complexity when needed.

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  • Aerodynamics

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