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Hypersonic Research Topics

A wireframe image of an aircraft being designed.
A wireframe image of an aircraft being designed.

The Hypersonic Technology project is divided into four research topic areas. The first research topic is system-level design, analysis, and validation, which explores the impacts of technologies on vehicle performance. The second and third topics focus more specifically on propulsion technologies and vehicle technologies enabling hypersonic flight. The fourth topic area explores material technology that can survive and be reused in high-temperature hypersonic flight.

System-Level Design and Analysis

The System-Level Design, Analysis, and Validation research topic (RT-1) investments are focused on computational tool development and validation for hypersonic propulsion and vehicle system analysis methods including uncertainty quantification. RT-1 coordinates and performs definitive systems analysis studies to clarify the potential benefits of hypersonic vehicles and technologies for both high-speed civilian travel and space access and will use these studies to drive a technology portfolio focused on reusability, affordability, and reliability.

An illustration of a hypersonic vehicle. The vehicle is skinny, long, and somewhat rectangular from overhead with delta wings. It is covered in black tiles and has the NASA logotype and logo.
An illustration of a hypersonic vehicle.

Propulsion Technologies

The Propulsion Technologies research topic (RT-2) focuses on turboramjet, ramjet, integrated combined-cycle, dual-mode, and scramjet propulsion systems and associated propulsive mode transitions, combustor operability, fuels, controls, and sensors. RT-2 develops computational fluid dynamic technologies to enable predictive simulations of these systems.

An angled, rectangular block of metal fires into a round exhaust duct. Mist flows over the corners and around the whole model.
Hypersonic model test in the 8-Foot High Temperature Tunnel at NASA Langley.

Vehicle Technologies

The Vehicle Technologies research topic (RT-3) investments focus on understanding aerodynamic and aerothermodynamic phenomena, such as high-speed boundary-layer transition and shock-dominated flows, to further technologies that improve aerodynamic performance as well as reduce aerodynamic heating.

A steel model of a hypersonic vehicle and sensor in front of a window in a wind tunnel labeled the 20 inch Mach 6 Tunnel. The model is narrow and sharp.
A model of a hypersonic vehicle and sensor in NASA’s 20-Inch Mach 6 Air Tunnel in the Langley Aerothermodynamic Lab.

High Temperature Materials

The High Temperature Durable Materials research topic (RT-4) investments focus on advanced propulsion and vehicle materials research. Due to the operating conditions of hypersonic vehicles, most of the structures and materials are shared between propulsion and vehicle components, which include aeroshell, control surface, leading edge, propulsion, and sealing concepts. RT-4 examines the design and evaluation of potential structure and material concepts through component development and testing under relevant environments. In addition, because of the extreme environments the materials and structures must endure, RT-4 also includes development of advanced thermal and structural measurement methods.

About the Author

Shannon Eichorn

Shannon Eichorn

Shannon Eichorn is the Strategic Engagement Lead for NASA’s Advanced Air Vehicles Program. She is a former test engineer in supersonic wind tunnels and former engineer managing facilities, such as the Aeroacoustic Propulsion Lab, Glenn Extreme Environments Rig, and Creek Road Cryogenics Complex.



Last Updated
Jun 21, 2024
Jim Banke