Current Hypersonic and Space Vehicle Flight Test and Instrumentation
AIR FORCE TEST CENTER EDWARDS AFB CA
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Hypersonic flight test applies to suborbital, space transit, and space access vehicles. Recent programs are being initiated by the US Air Force, Defense Advanced Research Programs Agency DARPA, NASA, and commercial companies. The USAF and DARPA are pursuing technologies to meet the objectives of the High Speed Strike Weapon program. DARPA is also looking for new ways to satisfy the goal of Operationally Responsive Space a means of inserting a payload into orbit in hours instead of months at a cost of millions instead of hundreds of millions. One of the primary challenges to testing these systems will be collecting the data generated by these high speed vehicles. Recent news of foreign involvement in the pursuit of hypersonic technologies should make the importance of hypersonic advancements very evident. This paper is aimed at addressing the current flight test demand. A historic look will be used to showcase lessons learned from previous programs. These lessons will be juxtaposed with current and future programs with the intent of avoiding their replication. Lastly, a new flight test instrumentation system for atmospheric sensing is introduced. It has the potential to replace Rawindsonde balloons and pacer aircraft as a truth source for test-day atmospheric conditions. Its range of operation can accommodate hypersonic flight test, but its utility can be leveraged by a wide range of flight test programs.
- Research and Experimental Aircraft
- Unmanned Spacecraft