Sharp Leading Edge Hypersonic Vehicles in the Air and Beyond 1999-01-5514
Hypersonic flight vehicles, capable of flight in excess of five times the speed of sound, can be categorized into two basic types: blunt, high drag shapes, and sharp, low drag forms. Though the majority of hypersonic flight experience is invested in blunt geometries for spacecraft reentry, sharp high-speed aerodynamic shaped can be applied to a wide range of missions, including missiles, cruisers, accelerators, and maneuvering space vehicles. The techniques for designing this class of vehicle, and the limiting technologies, will be described. Several upcoming programs, most notably the NASA Ames SHARP flight tests, will demonstrate some of the key aerodynamic and materials technologies that will enable the practical development of high-lift, low drag hypersonic vehicles. The NASA Glenn Trailblazer vehicle is also described as an opportunity to apply these technologies on a promising access-to-space vehicle.