The US military successfully tests hypersonic rockets from NASA

The United States military’s Missile Defense Agency has launched three hypersonic rockets from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore in Virginia. The tests mark a small step in the development of hypersonic…

The US military successfully tests hypersonic rockets from NASA

The United States military’s Missile Defense Agency has launched three hypersonic rockets from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore in Virginia. The tests mark a small step in the development of hypersonic propulsion, in which high-speed, low-observable missiles are launched from a heavy-lift launch vehicle and used to reach speeds of up to Mach 6 and beyond. The experimental rockets were launched from Wallops atop United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket.

Here are a few more details about the test, which were provided to The Washington Post by NASA officials:

What the rockets flew in space

1. One of the rockets fired for two minutes, traveling about 54,000 miles per hour and reaching Mach 5. It was designed to test the concept of a “hexagonal shaped” rocket booster in orbit. The booster would be designed to span the width of a business jet and its tail would be designed to be almost vertical, guiding the rocket to orbit. This would help reduce the time required to deploy a hypersonic launch system.

2. The second rocket was designed to be a smaller version of the first — a rocket capable of launching hypersonic vehicles that could fly by targets at speeds that could approach Mach 8. Such a missile could be armed with conventional weapons. The third rocket was designated as an “hump shot,” or an experiment designed to assess how the rockets operated when in heavy atmosphere and reached high speeds. The hump shot weighed about 7.8 tons and traveled at about Mach 6 before cutting out of orbit.

Who did the test?

The rockets carried a payload of hypersonic flight concept data. The work done by NASA’s Office of Space Flight Research “allows our joint participants to further develop the hypersonic propulsion architecture and the capability of the future spacefaring nation by testing design and system requirements,” D.C. Capabilities Director Ellen Stofan said in a statement.

How did it go?

The test conducted Thursday was just a first. There are plans to conduct more hypersonic test launches in 2019.

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