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NASA Provides Results Of Scramjet Test

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the they've-gone-plaid dept.

United States 176

Guinnessy writes "Last March, NASA carried out the world's first test flight of a scramjet-powered aircraft. The Industrial Physicist has the latest results from this test. According to the article scramjet-powered missiles and aircraft could be in mass production as early as 2010. This piece is also a good introduction for those unfamilar with scramjet technology."

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GNAA First? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10030916)

Fuck you all Cocksmoking teabaggers

CONGRATS!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10030946)

ewe DID NOT FAIL IT!!!

a horse (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10030917)

frost shit

Re:a horse (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10030927)

I own you Bitch

Liberals aka traitors - you're gonna get it now (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10031159)

We know who you are [com.com] .

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Scramjet powered missiles/aircraft?! (4, Funny)

JoeShmoe950 (605274) | more than 9 years ago | (#10030928)

I want a scramjet powered heatsink to OC my CPU (ok, it make it hotter, but anyway...)

Re:Scramjet powered missiles/aircraft?! (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#10030999)

Just replace the side panel of your case with a Stirling refrigeration unit. [stirling.nl] It'll draw quite a bit of power, but you should be able to get the inside of your case close to super-conducting temperatures. Of course, do this at your own risk. I'm in no way responsible for any cracks, warping, or other thermal damage you do to your equipment.

Scramjet never actually tested (4, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031078)

There was no scramjet "test." The whole thing was done in a NASA basement, with simulated scramjets-powered aircraft which were made to look like they were being tested. The reality is the tests never happened. Wake up people!

Re:Scramjet never actually tested (1)

xsupergr0verx (758121) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031116)

So that's why I couldn't see it when I looked up in the sky from thousands of miles away.

You oughta work for Fox as disinformation minister. Hell, even Fox News this close to the election.

Re:Scramjet powered missiles/aircraft?! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10031250)

you, sir are an asssnake [asssnake.com]

Hello (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10030930)

Nasa scramjet? mÖre like nasa döng jet.

For the GNAA: L0DE IS A DEAD JEW (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10030933)

Fuck you l0de
Fuck you in your Juden ass

Re:For the GNAA: L0DE IS A DEAD JEW (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10031231)

mod parent up, subject is a traitor

MOD DMX/DiKKy DOWN -12, REDUNDANT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10031234)

jews did wtc

in due chance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10030947)

[quote]could be in mass production by 2010[/quote]

i think its liklier they're hitting the peace pipe again.

Re:in due chance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10030953)

Nope. War pipe.

Great news! (5, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#10030951)

One thing that has often concerned me is the matter of lift from the wings/lifting body. Obviously this design should be able to go into orbit with a relatively minor assist from rocket engines. However, how much lift does it actually get? Is it possible to build a craft that can use wing lift all the way up to LEO? If so, could it then be possible to obtain a flight envelope on the way back down?

The primary reason why I've concerned myself with this, is that the Space Shuttle literally "falls" out of orbit in a very steep dive. The idea is to re-enter somewhere over the Pacific and shed enough speed to land just before the Atlantic. Obviously, it was important the normal flight operations didn't overfly the USSR. The problem with this sort of profile is that the Shuttle takes on a tremendous heat load from the aero-braking. Yet there's nothing really inherent in the atmosphere that says the the Shuttle MUST take on that load.

To get to the point, would it be possible to return in a glide or powered flight without the requirement of a heat shield? i.e. Could a vehicle obtain a thin-atmosphere flight envelope and reduce its speed at a more gradual rate? Perhaps even to the point where no shielding is required?

Any aerospace engineers in the know want to comment?

Re:Great news! (5, Informative)

AeroNate (740123) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031007)

Any aerospace engineers in the know want to comment?

Well, I am not an expert in reentry, but I'll take a crack at your question. I think the important thing is not maximum heating, but rather some integral of heating over time. If the shuttle or other vehicle entered more gradually, it may be that it would actually reach a higher temperature because it would have more time to soak up the heat from the plasma around it. No matter how well you insulate something, eventually it has to reach practically the same temperature as its surroundings. You hope to get on the ground long before that happens.

Wings are heavy and delicate, and it would be hard to imagine that they could be large enough to significantly lift the craft at high altitude and lower speed and still survive the heating. (The heavier the wings are, the more kinetic energy you need to dissipate to slow down--and the more heating you get.) IMHO wings are a dumb thing to carry into space with you. Lifting bodies are better.

Re:Great news! (1)

nmos (25822) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031064)

IANAAE but it seems to me that in order to re-enter more slowly you'd actually have to fire up your engines which may have consequences.

you need to get rid of the energy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10031085)

My thought is:
If you're 'falling' with 11km/s, because that's about the speed needed to at least stay in orbit. How do you think you are going to get rid of this much energy stored in your own mass ?

OR you waste about the same amount of fuel putting you in orbit the first place.
OR you waste it by converting in to heat.

The last solution would be the easiest and most economic one i presume.

What we really need is some gravity repulsion system!!! :)

Re:Great news! (4, Informative)

Phanatic1a (413374) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031111)

Is it possible to build a craft that can use wing lift all the way up to LEO?

Maybe.

In a real gas, aerodynamic lift is always accompanied by aerodynamic drag, and the ratio of the two is not dependent upon density or pressure or altitude. Until the point at which you actually achieve orbit, if you are relying upon aerodynamic lift to keep you in the sky, there's a certain amount of drag you have to overcome just to keep accelerating, and you can't make that problem go away by playing with the altitude.

The absolute best hypersonic lifting body designs anyone's been able to come up with, even theoretically on paper, have lift:drag ratios on the order of 10:1, so you need a thrust:weight ratio of at least .1:1 to keep accelerating.

Re:Great news! (3, Interesting)

Hakubi_Washu (594267) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031114)

Hm,
I'm no expert either, but I would tend to think that the re-entry problem is not height, but the speed required to stay in orbit. In order to return to earth you hve to reduce speed pretty heavily (The reason SpaceShipOne didn't "reach orbit" was that it can't ever reach the necessary speed in the first place). If you don't do this "fast" enough you'll not reach earth surface, but continue to orbit, albeit way more eccentric. It is possible to land in this way, a lot of mars flight plans include this multiple aerobraking/atmosphere dipping, but it takes a) a lot more time, as your orbit takes you pretty far outwards between the "dips" and b) it is way more risky as your calculations have to be very precise (Otherwise... You know what flat stones can do on water? :-)
As I said, I'm merely a /.-reading geek, but I think this is pretty much what the problem looks like...

Re:Great news! (4, Informative)

Planetes (6649) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031150)


However, how much lift does it actually get? Is it possible to build a craft that can use wing lift all the way up to LEO? If so, could it then be possible to obtain a flight envelope on the way back down?


This depends entirely in how you define leo. In order to reach what is generally considered space (100km+) you will be outside 99% of the atmosphere. This means that the atmospheric density is extremely low. So low that the normal rules of fluid mechanics are invalid and you have to treat air as a rarified gas. This is statistics based rather than standard calculus based. The extremely low density effectively means that lift from the wings/lifting body is essentially zero unless you have an extremely large surface area. In fact, at this point, drag and the erosion from atomic oxygen and free hydrogen are much more prevalent than the force of lift. As a result, once you reach this point lift is essentially zero although the engines would continually accelerate you to the necessary orbital velocity.

In other words, lift would be dependent on your surface area of the wings. This will get you to the top of the atmosphere. At which point, you have to use pure thrust to reach orbit. In addition, once you reach a certain point the O2 levels drop to the point where a scramjet is useless and you need to use conventional rockets.

Orbit is more a function of speed than a function of lift or drag. ISS uses reboosts periodically to compensate for the fact that LEO actually exists within the upper atmosphere and it's subject to a drag force.

Re:Great news! (1)

Hacksaw (3678) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031157)

Is it possible to build a craft that can use wing lift all the way up to LEO?

To a useful LEO, no. I think that would require that there be atmosphere all the way up to said LEO.

LEO is considered to be any orbit below about 1500 kilometers. 100 kilometers is the agreed upon border between atmosphere and space.

is that the Space Shuttle literally "falls" out of orbit in a very steep dive

My understanding is that it does this because a shallower descent would cuase the shuttle to skip off the atmosphere like a stone off a pond.

In any case, you have to ablate that energy somehow. What you are getting rid of is the potential stored in the ship by boosting it into orbit. You must either use the atmosphere to slow you down, or rocket fuel. Reusable tiles are cheaper than fuel for this, and probably safer.

Re:Great news! (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031514)

My understanding is that it does this because a shallower descent would cuase the shuttle to skip off the atmosphere like a stone off a pond.

In any case, you have to ablate that energy somehow.

That is all quite true.However, the question is can you reduce the rate enough that you don't have to resort to fragile tiles to handle the heat load.

For example, skipping off of the atmosphere need not be bad, since the time you spend in the skip is cooling you off. Each dip deeper into the atmosphere converts more momentum into heat and the skip back out gives you time to radiate it away.

For another example,what happens if instead of one big deorbit burn (such as the shuttle does) where you basically dive into the atmosphere, you do a smaller burn so that you do 10 or so more orbits losing a bit of momentum each time you dip into the upper atmosphere (twice per orbit)?

Note that I haven't done any calculations and it's entirely possible that such a plan wouldn't help at all.

Re:Great news! (1)

Hacksaw (3678) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031595)

I think skipping off the atmosphere might be considered dangerous. And think about how much fuel you'd spend controlling the thing, instead of the control surfaces usable in the atmosphere.

There's also the time spent landing. You might have to take tenfold the amount of time to reduce the heat load to wear convential aircraft metal could take it. (Average orbit speed for the shuttle is about 17000 mph. Landing speed is 215 mph.)

Re:Great news! (1)

jsebrech (525647) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031476)

You don't really have to worry about wings or air availability at altitude if you can reach escape velocity.

From the earth's surface escape velocity is 25000mph. Mach 1 is 760mph, so escape velocity is mach 32. Ofcourse, that ignores air friction, and I have no idea whether a scramjet could ever reach that speed.

Ofcourse, the higher you go, the lower the escape velocity becomes. So maybe someone who actually knows what they're talking about can tell us how fast you would need to go at altitudes where the scramjet is still operational to reach escape velocity?

Re:Great news! (1)

Planetes (6649) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031625)

It should be noted that there is a difference between escape velocity and orbital velocity. Escape velocity is the delta V necessary to escape the gravity well. Orbital velocity is simply the V necessary to keep missing whatever object you're falling toward. All orbits are conic sections. A vehicle with a V greater than Vescape will be in an orbit with an open section (i.e. a hyperbolic orbit) and those under Vescape will be in a closed elliptical orbit.

To answer your question, Vescape for an object is the same regardless of altitude. The difference is that the initial V at higher altitudes is greater therefore the delta V necessary to reach Vescape is lower. The operational altitudes for a scramjet are so low that Vinitial is effectively zero compared to the delta V necessary to reach Vescape. Therefore, a scramjet doesn't get you close.

Also, Mach 1 is 760mph at a specific altitude only. As the altitude increases, the velocity corresponding to mach 1 decreases. M=V/a (a is speed of sound) a decreases as you rise because atmospheric density drops.

just what we need (3, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 9 years ago | (#10030956)

The 2003 engine has the potential to power future missiles, aircraft, and access-to-space vehicles. Last year, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, U.S. Navy, Boeing, Aerojet, and Johns Hopkins University also ground-tested a scramjet engine, which was constructed primarily from nickel alloys, powered by JP10 jet fuel, and intended exclusively for hypersonic missiles.

Great. So now we'll have missiles that can do mach 15. It's being billed for aircraft as well, but nobody seems to have addressed issues of, gee, say, it only being useful at incredible altitudes. Nevermind that the airline industry is crumbling requiring massive bailouts from the Feds, and the only supersonic aircraft to date to do commercial passenger flights was never profitable in almost 40 years of operation.

The most influential of these efforts was NASA's National Aerospace Plane (NASP) program, established in 1986 to develop a vehicle with speed greater than Mach 15 and horizontal takeoff and landing capabilities. The program ended in 1993,

"The program ended"? What a polite way of saying "we failed. But along the way we spent almost 10 years and probably billions on some futuristic space plane with no real purpose."

I'm sick of NASA justifying themselves as an organization for exploration and science- when they're instead spending most of their time (and my money) on weapons platform research and lining defense contractor pockets. We haven't managed to do anything for millions of Americans with no health insurance , our kids are dumb as bricks because their schools are cutting programs and staff, and our police/fire/ems departments are laying off staff left and right from budget cuts...but hey, we've got a plane that can do mach 15 at 100,000 feet! Sweet!

Re:just what we need (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 9 years ago | (#10030988)

The problem is that killing NASA won't solve those problems you state or remotely fund a fix on any of them, unless you want an emotional band-aid.

The Federal budget shouldn't be used to pay for local services such as police/fire/EMS. There's a sepration of powers that needs to be there. Federal funding of local services usually means strings attached, and too often those strings are nearly as much or more expensive than the money provided.

The things wrong with the educational system goes far deeper than money, throwing more money at it without solving the other problems would only make things worse, IMO.

Re:just what we need (4, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031012)

The problem is that killing NASA won't solve those problems you state or remotely fund a fix on any of them, unless you want an emotional band-aid.

I see. So we should just keep throwing money at defense technology? We spend more on defense per capita than the next top three nations combined- do you realize that includes North Korea, widely considered to be a "military state"?

The problem is that taxes are all interlinked, because they're all paid by you and me out of the same place- our bank accounts. So when federal taxes go up, guess what? That means more political pressure on state and local politicians. They have to cut local and state taxes because people are screaming blue bloody murder that their taxes are outrageous. Perfect example- MA's governor, Mitt Romney, wants to slash taxes- but his last budget severely cut funding for a lot of very important stuff- programs for the mentally ill and money for state colleges, for example. There's no money left in the coffers for improving the state's roads- even though we have a fantastic system of arteries in Boston now, soon as you get off them, you find some of the shittiest roads in the country.

You want local services to be locally funded? Fine. Cut the money out of the budget- don't redirect it to "terrorism" crap or defense stuff- I want to see my federal tax bill for 2005 go down. Second, get corporations back to footing half the taxes, like they did in the 1950's, instead of the 2% of today.

The things wrong with the educational system goes far deeper than money, throwing more money at it without solving the other problems would only make things worse, IMO.

When schools have to shut down all their extracurricular activities and students have to share BOOKS in this day and age- uh, I beg to differ. Throwing money is EXACTLY what needs to be done. But, enior citizens hate taxes, don't have kids in school, and vote in large numbers.

Re:just what we need (3, Insightful)

nmos (25822) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031036)

I see. So we should just keep throwing money at defense technology? We spend more on defense per capita than the next top three nations combined- do you realize that includes North Korea, widely considered to be a "military state"?

All good stuff but even if you consider NASA part of "defense technology" and ignore all of the areas it contributes to it's still only a very tiny fraction of our defense spending. Even cutting NASA completely wouldn't change the stat you quoted at all.

Re:just what we need (3, Insightful)

bhima (46039) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031117)

I mostly agree with your post, but since I'm a space fan boy I can't resist to comment. I think NASA is researching stuff that will get funded and unfortunately to do that they begin with technology with obvious military uses. I've read a lot of articles on this propulsion system and I just can see it ever really making it out of military use. The efficiency of this is poor and that would drive costs up and that is one of the things that killed the concord. I fly to the US a couple of times a year and while I would like to have a dramatically shorter flight I'm not willing to pay more than I already have to (although I generally upgrade)

Oh and I find you comments about school books to be misplaced. The real problem with school books is that the whole publishing system is a corrupt money grab and is unrelated to the corrupt money grab that exists in the industrial military complex (other than the fact they both shows flaws inherent in the capitalist system).

It is just what we need. (5, Interesting)

Behrooz (302401) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031018)

It is just what we need. Or rather, it's a good stepping stone on the way to orbit.

Mach 15 at 100,000 feet is 10,200 MPH, which is also roughly equivalent to the following critical hurdles to cheap space travel:

10% of the ~185-mile altitude required for a stable orbit.
59% of the ~7.7 km/sec required to achieve low-earth orbital velocity.

NASA's budget is a drop in the bucket, approximately $15B out of total discretionary spending exceeding $850B, with a total federal budget exceeding $2.2 trillion... hah.

Hypersonic aerospace research is a good idea simply on its own merits, regardless of present applications. I certainly look forward to 90-minute sub-orbital shuttles from London to Tokyo, and being able to put things in orbit for less than $10,000/pound.

ah, the space enthusiast censorship at its best (0, Flamebait)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031019)

Nice to see I can get modded up to 4 by people who agree with me about space/defense funding.

...and then 5 minutes later modded down for being "flamebait". Happens every time I post a comment that goes contrary to the "because it's there" space fanboyism.

God forbid someone should express an opinion that's unpopular, right folks?

Re:ah, the space enthusiast censorship at its best (1)

Behrooz (302401) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031038)

Space funding and defense funding are two different issues. I can point to *many* concrete improvements in our lives due to technological spinoffs from the Space program.

Defense funding, on the other hand... has less to recommend it.

I call your bluff, sir (1, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031059)

I can point to *many* concrete improvements in our lives due to technological spinoffs from the Space program.

Name a single one that came from:

  • Any of the dozens of rocketplanes
  • NASA putting astronauts on the moon
  • Skylab
  • Any of the mars missions
  • Putting humans in space, period

Re:I call your bluff, sir (4, Funny)

FatBobSmith (555928) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031113)

Tang.

Re:I call your bluff, sir (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10031124)

Nearly everyone in the world (including the richest and poorest areas) has benefited greatly from all the satellites we use for communications. They were made possible by technological spinoffs from all the rocketry programs.

Re:I call your bluff, sir (5, Interesting)

gilroy (155262) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031130)

OK. By the way, this is from less than two minutes of a Google search... it's particularly low-hanging fruit available to anyone who's open enough to actually, you know, look.

"Commercially available infant formulas now contain a nutritional enrichment ingredient that traces its existence to NASA-sponsored research that explored the potential of algae as a recycling agent for long duration space travel." (ref [seds.org] )

Ski wear: "The NASA association began back in the 1970s, when Comfort Products adapted astronaut protective clothing technology to ski boot design. Specifically, the company borrowed heating element circuitry that kept Apollo astronauts warm or cool in the temperature extremes of the Moon, and used it to create built-in rechargeable footwarming devices that were supplied to leading ski boot manufacturers." (ref [seds.org] , emphasis added)

"In 1965, Johnson Space Center contracted with the University of Minnesota to explore the then-known but little-developed concept of impedance cardiography (ICG) as a means of astronaut monitoring. A five-year program led to the development of the Minnesota Impedance Cardiograph (MIC), an electronic system for measuring impedance changes across the thorax that would be reflective of cardiac function and blood flow from the heart's left ventricle into the aorta... the cost of the thermodilution technique [the old, invasive way] runs five to 17 times that of IQ monitoring [the new, NASA-developed way]"(ref [seds.org] )

"GROUND PROCESSING SCHEDULING SYSTEM - Computer-based scheduling system that uses artificial intelligence to manage thousands of overlapping activities involved in launch preparations of NASA's Space Shuttles. The NASA technology was licensed to a new company which developed commercial applications that provide real-time planning and optimization of manufacturing operations, integrated supply chains, and customer orders" (ref [thespaceplace.com] )

"STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS - This NASA program, originally created for spacecraft design, has been employed in a broad array of non-aerospace applications, such as the automobile industry, manufacture of machine tools, and hardware designs."(ref [thespaceplace.com] )

"SCRATCH-RESISTANT LENSES - A modified version of a dual ion beam bonding process developed by NASA involves coating the lenses with a film of diamond-like carbon that not only provides scratch resistance, but also decreases surface friction, reducing water spots." (ref [thespaceplace.com] )

"MICROSPHERES - The first commercial products manufactured in orbit are tiny microspheres whose precise dimensions permit their use as reference standards for extremely accurate calibration of instruments in research and industrial laboratories. They are sold for applications in environmental control, medical research, and manufacturing."(ref [thespaceplace.com] )

"SOLAR ENERGY - NASA-pioneered photovoltaic power system for spacecraft applications was applied to programs to expand terrestrial applications as a viable alternative energy source in areas where no conventional power source exists."(ref [thespaceplace.com] )

"DIGITAL IMAGING BREAST BIOPSY SYSTEM - The LORAD Stereo Guide Breast Biopsy system incorporates advanced Charge Coupled Devices (CCDs) as part of a digital camera system. The resulting device images breast tissue more clearly and efficiently. Known as stereotactic large-core needle biopsy, this nonsurgical system developed with Space Telescope Technology is less traumatic and greatly reduces the pain, scarring, radiation exposure, time, and money associated with surgical biopsies."(ref [thespaceplace.com] )

"VOICE-CONTROLLED WHEELCHAIR - NASA teleoperator and robot technology used to develop chair and manipulator that respond to 35 one-word voice commands utilizing a minicomputer to help patient perform daily tasks, like picking up packages, opening doors, and turning on appliances."(ref [thespaceplace.com] )

I've cropped considerably more than half the applications listed -- on just these two pages -- for brevity. Does space research "pay off"? Every day . There have been few, if any, private sector investments that can come anywhere near the return-on-investment of the American space program.

But of course that doesn't match the current political atmosphere, so it will be ignored.

Re:I call your bluff, sir (2, Interesting)

mj_1903 (570130) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031151)

How about any of NASA's R&D to do exactly those things? If I recall correctly, the shape of the wings on many aircraft today are a direct descendant from research that NASA did on aircraft wings. Interestingly you may also not know that NASA found that a wing that was upside down with a small lip on the end was actually the best wing in terms of performance.

Composite structures in aircraft, such as the tail of the 777 or much of the Airbus super jumbo, owe a great deal to NASA's research.

Many new things have been learnt about the human body thanks to NASA research into human behaviour, in areas such as extended stays in isolation, the endurance of the human body and team work.

Many key elements of computers owe a lot to NASA funding miniaturisation for space craft and this has had a run off effect in many areas of human life.

Other posters have mentioned other areas, so I will leave it at that.

Re:I call your bluff, sir (1)

kindofblue (308225) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031223)

Some more things:
  • Fuel-cell technology was advanced for use in the space shuttle.
  • Great advances were made to make the heat shield for the shuttle. I'm sure the glue (even though imperfect) was a big advance also.
  • To get people to Mars and back will require many more breakthroughs, since they will be in space for a few months at least. Problems include developing very efficient energy systems like better solar cells and batteries. They may have to get rocket fuel from the ice on Mars. (I don't know how they would extract the oxygen or hydrogen, but I remember that was a suggestion.) Life support systems will have to recycle everything possible, for food, air, human waste. Shielding would have to be advanced enough to protect from cosmic rays. Some form of human hibernation may eventually be used for very long term human space flight. All of these advances would have great everyday application, such as UV-protection, medicine, clean energy, garbage reduction and efficient recycling, hydrogen fuel production and certainly many many others.
  • Oh, and without the manned space program, we probably wouldn't have gotten 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, Star Trek, Blade Runner, Planet of the Apes, the Alien series, .... Instead we would have had movies about feeding starving children. Who the hell wants to see movies about fields of wheat?

Re:ah, the space enthusiast censorship at its best (1)

bhima (46039) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031263)

Every time someone says "I can point to *many* concrete improvements in our lives due to technological spinoffs from the Space program."

The first thing I think of is Tang!

Re:ah, the space enthusiast censorship at its best (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031041)

If you write a polemic, you shouldn't be surprised when it gets modded as flamebait.

You utterly miss the point... (1)

rtilghman (736281) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031106)


First off, pure R&D (like the kind that drives actual human development, technological advancement, and industry creation) doesn't often deliver immediate industrial benefits or applications. It is only over time as ideas are refined, enhanced, and evolved that they often find a purpose.

Hell, LOOK AT THE INTERNET. Do you know how much money is literally DUMPED into DARPA every year that doesn't do diddly squat? Yet every so often you get something that just explodes. Do you think the original developers of the DARPAnet said:

"Hey, you know what Chuck? We could have someone right some langauges and abstraction layers on this, like a mark-up language or some kind of hyper-text thing, make a company that allows people to auction off the knick knacks in their attic, and make a fortune! Better yet, we'll create a whole world of ecommerce and REVOLUTIONIZE commerce!"

Evolution, whether industrial or bioligical, is organic in nature and doesn't evolove linearly. Sure, it would be really nice if we could just say "this is where we need to invest x dollars and everything will be OOOOOO-tay", but it would also be nice if we could resolve world piece to a 10 character mathmatical formula.

Think for just ONE MOMENT what life would be like if countries and companies didn't accept the 10% return on their R&D dollars. You wouldn't have 75% of the technology that came out of the industrial revolution and 20th century, you'd have less than HALF the medical advancement AT BEST!

I can easily see how Scramjet technology could make world-wide convenient travel a REAL possibilty in the next 20 years, and given the more sensible economics of fuel with scramjets it would make more sense from a cost basis as well.

BTW, the reason the Concorde was a failure was because supersonic flight based on current engine technology is a pig (eats fuel) and can't make a profit off the people it can carry. If you brought scramjet powered planes capable of hour flights ANYWHERE ON THE GLOBE and could do it on half the fuel I think I can safely say that airline companies would kill each other for it (last CEO standing... GO!).

-rt

Re:You utterly miss the point... (1)

Cutterman (789191) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031161)

Concorde as a "failure" because the sonic boom precluded it overflying land during supersonic flight. The resulting flightpath limitations made it uneconomical. The same problem arises with scramjet powered AC and is essentially insoluble. [Concorde was pretty thirsty too.]

Re:You utterly miss the point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10031583)

Plus it was a british/french creation, not American, so hurt pride and a good case of "Not Invented Here" helped ensure it was easy to put up a campaign of opposition to concord landing at US airports, so no US carriers bought them, so they remained very pricy and lots of other airlines/airports/aviation authorities thought. If THEY don't want the concord then there must be a good reason.. WE don't want concord either!!!!

Re:just what we need (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031140)

Think about use this engine in unmaned cargo aircraft?

How about delivery YESTERDAY to China?

Re:just what we need (4, Funny)

Bi()hazard (323405) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031225)

The parent post sounds suspiciously like a troll, but it's been modded up enough to deserve an analysis of its claims.

Great. So now we'll have missiles that can do mach 15. It's being billed for aircraft as well, but nobody seems to have addressed issues of, gee, say, it only being useful at incredible altitudes. Nevermind that the airline industry is crumbling requiring massive bailouts from the Feds, and the only supersonic aircraft to date to do commercial passenger flights was never profitable in almost 40 years of operation.

Most people don't like missiles, but access-to-space vehicles that operate at incredible altitudes are very useful. We have a lot of very useful satellites up there, and these "space planes" could make those satellites a lot cheaper. But you do have a point on the airline industry. The Feds waste endless sums of money bailing out companies that fail to innovate and offer infamously poor service, and then the feds turn around and regulate them into the ground to prevent terrorism. Flying, which was once a decadent luxury, is now a painful ordeal. The airline CEO's are riding a gold mine of federal bailout money while the taxpayers get screwed.

What can we do to restore the airlines? I'll tell you what. We need to turn them into desireable luxuries affordable to the masses.

Today, when you enter an airport, you're destined to spend hours sitting around being bored while waiting for your plane. You'll go through a pain-in-the-ass security procedure that doesn't secure much at all. And then you'll be packed into cramped seats like sardines.

How can we solve all of these problems without spending vast sums of money, even though the people running the airlines are corrupt, money grubbing fiends?

Easy-turn all those weaknesses into strengths! Through the power of sex. Take all the money you would spend on bailing out the airlines, and use it on a massive campaign to fight sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy. When people show up at the airport, the security check will consist of attractive members of the opposite sex strip-searching them to ensure health, hygiene, and the use of contraceptives. The hours of waiting for delayed flights will *fly* by as they turn into massive orgies. Being packed like sardines on the plane will be a good thing now. (we just have to make sure seating arrangements keep people in compatible groups, perhaps ordered by age, with plenty of cute stewardesses and stewards to guarantee everyone has a good time?)

This approach has endless benefits: Everyone will want to fly, turning the airline business into a highly competitive, profit-filled arena. Everyone will have a great time, making life better for the common citizen. Illegal prostitution will become a thing of the past, and the safety checks will result in huge reductions in national healthcare expenses as problems are prevented before they spread. And how does this relate to scramjets? Ooh, imagine the possibilites of doing all that in orbit, with zero gravity! I, for one, welcome our weightless airline sex overlords. And underlords. Depending on whether you're a top or bottom.

I'm sick of NASA justifying themselves as an organization for exploration and science- when they're instead spending most of their time (and my money) on weapons platform research and lining defense contractor pockets.

NASA is actually one of the less defense-oriented research organizations. Believe it or not, the department of defense is the single most influential source of funding for pure science in this country. Nobody else wants to pay the bills. We'd see fewer weapons platforms if the government spent MORE on pure science that won't be applied for another decade. But as long as scientists can only get funded by playing the DoD's game, we're going to see giant robots wielding laser cannons before a cure for cancer. Simply kill the giant robot programs without increasing spending on pure research, and you'll see unemployed scientists moving overseas to build giant robots for other countries. And fewer Americans aspiring to get educations, because you can't make a living in science. Poor PhD students are forced to resort to illegal prostitution to pay off their loans, because nobody will pay them to do pure research. As they give up and enter "the life" without incurring loans in the first place, American prostitutes become less and less educated, ensuring that our nation cannot compete against the highly educated child prostitutes produced by the rigorous school systems of Asia.

We haven't managed to do anything for millions of Americans with no health insurance

Do you have any idea how much money it would take to change that? You could wipe out NASA entirely and its full budget would be dwarfed by margin of error in the health insurance statistics. We either need to double our taxes (which most countries do, look at European and even Canadian tax rates) or make the health system vastly more efficient. That's not going to happen for the same reasons airlines aren't improving, plus the fact that ordinary people are always trying to cheat the system to score cheap drugs and unnecessary procedures. That's right, the painkiller addicts with the facelifts and the insurance company CEO's with facelifts are wasting the money that should be spent on keeping our children from starving in the streets dying of leprosy. Of course, we could simply cut health costs by killing of the sick and elderly that rack up most of the endless bills. For the good of the world, hundreds of millions of executions must take place.

our kids are dumb as bricks because their schools are cutting programs and staff,

Funny you should mention that. NASA is one of our best tools to improve education. Space exploration is just plain cool and it makes kids want to learn. Once they've been hooked on science, like a bunch of little drug addicts they'll come back for more. Eliminate NASA and our kids will become even more apathetic. And of course, the money you save won't be anywhere near enough to buy one textbook for every needy kid in the country, let alone raise teacher salaries, rennovate classrooms, and restore extracurricular activities. Our educational system sucks because people aren't fighting for it at the local level. It's just like health and airlines, except it's the lazy and incompetent school administrators that give themselves tenure while ignoring the plight of the children they should be helping. Except for the ones that are pedophiles, they really care about the children. They love their children. Education, like science, is not a rewarding profession in America; it is a profession for silly idealists, lazy leeches, and depraved pedophiles. Pedophiles that rape our helpless children, ruining their minds and plunging America into an increasingly bleak downward spiral of moral depravity and violence.

and our police/fire/ems departments are laying off staff left and right from budget cuts...

And how should we solve this? Those things are all locally funded, so in a discussion of NASA you must be implying that the government should bail them out, and federalize failing ones. (like we do for airlines!) Once again, NASA's budget is nothing here-we should be looking to the health care black hole, because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Spend $X of healthcare money on fast-response EMS, anti-crime policework, firefighting, and the like, and we'll see a reduction in health care costs much greater than X. But the federal government just loves throwing money down black holes (like the airlines) and local governments are usually incompentent and corrupt (like schools) so not much gets done. And after the mayor cuts the police, fire and ems budgets so he can lower taxes and get reelected, the poor voters will find themselves bleeding to death in their burning houses after thieves and vandals loot everything in sight. And rape them. lots of rape. Including our precious children, who were already getting raped at school. Won't anyone think of the children?? Except the pedophiles. they already think about them too much.

but hey, we've got a plane that can do mach 15 at 100,000 feet! Sweet!

Hey, better us than the Soviet Chinese! If we don't keep spending on defense, pretty soon they'll take over and we'll all be thrown in jail for complaining on slashdot! Sweet!

Re:just what we need (1)

davejenkins (99111) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031248)

We haven't managed to do anything for millions of Americans with no health insurance , our kids are dumb as bricks because their schools are cutting programs and staff, and our police/fire/ems departments are laying off staff left and right from budget cuts...but hey, we've got a plane that can do mach 15 at 100,000 feet! Sweet!

Okay, I'll bite:

1. I am not a big fan of NASA right now either, especially after seeing what an expensive boondoggle the Shuttle and ISS have become, but considering their budget, we do get some pretty good basic R&D for our money.

2. What more would you have the Feds do with your (my) money toward all the bleeding heart causes you listed?
- there is already assistance for anyone below the poverty line that pretty much equates to free food, free healthcare, and to a certain extend, free housing.
- did it ever occur to you that our kids are "dumb as bricks" because there is TOO MUCH interference from the government? What makes you think more federal money will fix things?
- police/firemen/ems is the responsibility of your local county council, not the federal government. I agree that those services are very important, but maybe we should be arguing for LESS money going to the feds, so we can spend more tax money locally.

- nothing is stopping you from donating your money to match your heart, but you won't impose your value system (and corresponding budget) on me without a fight...

engine design (4, Interesting)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 9 years ago | (#10030959)

After reading the article and looking at the diagram i wonder how the vulnerability of scramjet engine compares with a turbojet or turbofan when it comes to impacting birds and or bats, though at this time i am sure these engines are only being used at very high altitudes and in controlled conditions but if they make it into production fighter aircraft they will be used at lower altitudes. the lack of anything blocking off the path of the air in the diagrams makes it look almost as if an object would pass completely through the engine without damaging it, though i'm sure the object would be burnt to a crisp.

Re:engine design (4, Interesting)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 9 years ago | (#10030980)

It sounds like the engine depends on careful management of shock wave locations and heat profiles. Running a foreign object through could not be good.

On the other hand these are for speeds above Mach 3, at which you'd better be in very thin air or you'll start melting your vehicle. There aren't many birds at SR-71 cruising altitudes.

Re:engine design (1)

Planetes (6649) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031123)

The simple answer is that scramjet engines are MUCH less susceptible to debris/bird impacts simply because they have essentially no moving parts. It's essentially a well modeled tube. The critter would fly straight through without physically impacting anything except the walls. Oh, and due to the extreme temperatures it'll probably be incinerated.

Re:engine design (1)

mj_1903 (570130) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031139)

Chances are you will create an unstart if the engine is running due to the changes in the shock waves as the foreign body progresses through.

Of course an unstart does not damage the engine but it can radically alter the course of the aircraft. An unstart on an SR-71 at full speed led the aircraft to turn in the direction of the engine at roughly a mile every 4 seconds. They generally did not last long though.

Re:engine design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10031472)

...impacting birds ...i'm sure the object would be burnt to a crisp.

Thus eliminating the need to thaw the chicken before impact testing!

It wasn't on its own or was it? (1, Insightful)

qualico (731143) | more than 9 years ago | (#10030982)

"These goals drew closer to achievement this spring when the first scramjet-powered aircraft flew on its own."
"...craft mounted on a Pegasus booster rocket,"

So I guess the idea is to get it up to speed, but I don't think it left the booster rocket did it?

So did it really fly on its own?

Here's another good link with some cool pics.
(Too bad you can't read the words on them.)

http://www.nasa.gov/missions/research/x43_soars_ fe ature.html

Re:It wasn't on its own or was it? (1)

qualico (731143) | more than 9 years ago | (#10030990)

oops, forgot about Slashdot's "plain old text" posting long html links bug.

Take the space out of "fe ature.html"

Re:It wasn't on its own or was it? (1)

vivian (156520) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031005)

clickable [nasa.gov] version of the above link

This begs the question (1, Redundant)

d3ity (800597) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031017)

Why do we need to go mach 15 anyway?

Re:This begs the question (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031086)

"Nobody will ever need to go past Mach 14."

Re:This begs the question (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10031090)

Why do we need to go mach 15 anyway?

Because some people just aren't satisfied with the shave they get from their Mach 3?

Re:This begs the question (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031108)

Why do we need to go mach 15 anyway?

Imagine how much lower FedEx and UPS delivery times will be.

Get that Moon Rock that you bought on Ebay in 3 hours or less.

Imagine how many spouses will get caught cheating. Call home to NYC from LA and 30 minutes later come walking in the door.

The possibilities are endless.

LK

Affordable? (3, Interesting)

bStrom (806850) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031028)

The article says that the scramjet will be "affordable", but what does that really mean? Affordable compared to current commercial technology? Affordable compared to current scramjet technology?

The affordability, more than anything else, will determine whether this technology is adopted. This engine might get you to your destination faster, but if it costs 10x as much the majority of fliers (and airlines) won't pay.

Great... (2, Insightful)

Dayze!Confused (717774) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031039)

All we need is more ways to shoot missiles. Hey maybe we could sell them to two combating countries so they can take each other out and then we can go invade them for having weapons of mass destruction.

Re:Great... (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031096)

Only if they have oil there.

Re:Great... (1)

lachlan76 (770870) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031645)

Hate to break it to you, but you're the biggest combating country out there.

We should have invaded you while you were out invading the Middle East ;)

cheaper (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10031045)

scram jets could be cheaper because they use surrounding atmosphere to mold a 'virtual nozzle' to direct exhaust. This means less weight, less fuel...

Also, the technology can hypothetically be turned into a radial design. There are descriptions on the net, I'm just to lazy to hunt one down.

oops, 2015 for aircraft not 2010 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10031074)

"According to the article scramjet-powered missiles and aircraft could be in mass production as early as 2010."

a literal read of the article (hey i actually read one :)) says that in 2010 the tech will be available for missles and in 2015 for aircraft. here is the quote:

"Demonstrating these technologies, along with additional ground- and flight-test experiments, will pave the way for affordable and reusable air-breathing hypersonic engines for missiles, long-range aircraft, and space-access vehicles around 2010, 2015, and 2025, respectively."

Missiles? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10031081)

God you Americans are belligerent. You turn technology into weapons, make money out of selling these devices designed to kill fellow man, and then cry when you yourselves are attacked.

As long as you're willing to have and use such terrible weapons, you have no moral authority to tell other countries that they can't do the same weapons.

So how about not producing weapons in the first place?

Zero to 5000 in 10 seconds? (2, Interesting)

serutan (259622) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031084)

Did I read this right? ...scramjet engine fired for a planned 10-s test, achieving an incredible Mach 7, or 5,000 mph.

It reached 5000 mph in TEN SECONDS? Holy crap, dude!
If this is right I am truly impressed. Could a human passenger survive that acceleration?

Re:Zero to 5000 in 10 seconds? (5, Informative)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031115)

Not exactly, it was carried atop a regular airplay at several hundred miles per hour, then the rocket booster kicked it up to the cruising altitude and THEN the scramjet engine was engaged for the 10 second burn.

It's damned impressive but it's not like it accellerated to 5000 mph from a standstill.

LK

Re:Zero to 5000 in 10 seconds? (-1, Troll)

peculiarmethod (301094) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031127)

no, but what is impressive is that now, if you're a hyper conservative warfaring mongrel looking to the next cold war, you can get funding for a missile defense program that is 'satellite' orbit based, drops missiles that have booster and scram jet technology, and destroy thew lesser advanced arsenal based on regular old rocket technology now in the hands of your foes. It's kinda like taking a poker game and introducing a second full hand.. all stakes on both hands. Sure, you could also attacked a nuke to these.. but the friendly old US of A wouldn't provoke a war in such a manner, would we? Nahhhh.

pm

Re:Zero to 5000 in 10 seconds? (1, Informative)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031131)

That is about 23 Gs. MAYBE a human could survive it, for a mere 10 seconds, with proper cushioning. No way in hell a human could be piloting it at that acceleration.

Thats a big... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10031218)

23Gs? That would really, really suck. A 150lb dude (average /.er, soaking wet) would be slammed into his seat with like three and a half TONS of force. Anyone want to go take the tires off their car and then lay under it for 10 seconds? Let us know how you feel afterwards, ok? Thanks!

And even if you were in the center of a 6 foot ball of bubble wrap, I doubt your organs would survive the punishment. A three pound (2% of 150) brain? 70lbs in your skull. Would your heart even beat when it felt like 17lbs?

But I suppose we should look at the bright side. At least at 23Gs you could claim to have a 10lb penis!

"Hey baby... this one time..."


(Hmm, better post this AC...)

Re:Thats a big... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10031238)

Mod parent up!

Bloody funny!!!

Re:Thats a big... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10031292)

And the best part is you titled you post "Thats a bit"

Re:Zero to 5000 in 10 seconds? (1)

CaptnMArk (9003) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031138)

Perhaps a new class for NHRA :)

What is a scramjet? (4, Informative)

p0 (740290) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031142)

From the article:
The supersonic combustion ramjet, or scramjet, uses no rotating parts. In a conventional ramjet, the incoming supersonic airflow is slowed to subsonic speeds by multiple shock waves, created by back-pressuring the engine. Fuel is added to the subsonic airflow, the mixture combusts, and exhaust gases accelerate through a narrow throat, or mechanical choke, to supersonic speeds. By contrast, the airflow in a pure scramjet remains supersonic throughout the combustion process and does not require a choking mechanism, which provides optimal performance over a wider operating range of Mach numbers. Modern scramjet engines can function as both a ramjet and scramjet and seamlessly make the transition between the two.
Get the pdf version here [tipmagazine.com]

Why take wings into space? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10031158)

waste of weight.

Old News? (2, Informative)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031167)

I remember hearing about them doing this (or at least something very very similar) on the radio a couple of months ago. And that was Australian radio, I always thought Australia was the last place news reached.

Did they re-do the experiment/is it something new? Or is slashdot the last place news reaches?

Re:Old News? (1)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031212)

Re:Old News? (2, Informative)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031220)

Sorry, that was the wrong test I just linked to.
This [space.com] is the one that actually worked

Re:Old News? (2, Informative)

Planetes (6649) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031635)

Actually no, this was a seperate experiment conducted by NASA while the experiment you are referring to was conducted by Australia. Both were scramjet flights, they were totally different designs though. The NASA experiment is the second of 3 flights. The first was aborted due to a failure with the control surfaces on the pegasus booster. The third is upcoming.

Calling for all liberal trolls (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10031168)

Your services are required here [freerepublic.com] . The neo-conservative warmongers are getting out of hand.

I couldn't believe it when I read a post saying "If you're standing in the way of the War on Terror, you're on my list".

A more aesthetic question (1)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031170)

Since these engines have no moving parts, does that mean that they would provide a quieter ride for passengers aboard ramjet airplanes? Also, does it even really matter -- is it even a possibility that these would become general use passenger planes? I mean, we have supersonic planes today, but hardly anyone has ever flown in one.

Fuel Availability (0, Troll)

aking137 (266199) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031177)

According to the article scramjet-powered missiles and aircraft could be in mass production as early as 2010.

That's great! Pity we'll probably be running out of oil [oilcrash.com] to power these things by then.

RTA before posting sarcastic comments, my friend (1)

benjaminchoate (593966) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031249)

"With the completion of the successful X-43A flight and the ground-testing of several full-sized demonstration engines, confidence in the viability of the hydrogen- and hydrocarbon-fueled scramjet engines has increased significantly. NASA plans to launch another X-43A this fall and fly it at Mach 10, or 6,750 mph."

If you had read the article you would see that they can apparently also run on hydrogen, and that, unless I am mistaken, it is the fuel of choice because of its greater efficiency.

"Propulsion efficiency decreases with speed as we progress through turbojets to ramjets and scramjets to rockets; hydrogen is more efficient than jet fuel."

Re:RTA before posting sarcastic comments, my frien (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10031312)

just where do you think most hydrogen comes from?

it's not brought by hydrogen fairies, you know.

cool... (2, Informative)

zxflash (773348) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031178)

interesting read, if anybody is looking for more info nasa has a good writeup on scramjets...

NASA - What's a Scramjet? [nasa.gov]

Higher Mach means less fuel efficient ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10031179)

... perfect engine for the 2010 $100-a-barrell
overpopulated world...

Unless you use it for depopulation of some oil-rich or oil-consuming regions ...

Applications? (1)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031181)

I think these are very cool, but I really have to wonder about the practical applications of these. I'm not saying that research into them should be stopped, I think this is definitely an area were further research is warranted, rather I'm just curious about where this technology might be going. The most practical use I can think of off the top of my head is missles because the faster missles move, the harder it is to intercept them. Beyond that though, I'm mostly drawing a blank in regards to truly useful applications.

Security concerns (3, Insightful)

britneys 9th husband (741556) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031183)

As cool as it would be to fly from New York to Tokyo in 90 minutes, I wonder if anyone has thought about the security concerns related to passenger jets that can travel 10,000 mph. Often during events like the Super Bowl or political oonventions, they'll put up a no-fly zone around a 5 or 10 mile radius so the military has time to shoot down any threatening aircraft. Problem is, at 10k mph, you can cover 1,000 miles in just 6 minutes. Does this mean all air travel in the entire Northeast would need to be shut down during the Republican convention in NYC? What kind of a no-fly zone would be needed around Washington, DC?

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for advancing technology, I just wonder how we would be able to handle a world where a terrorist flying a stolen or hijacked aircraft over Chicago could be less than 5 minutes from the White House.

Re:Security concerns (2, Insightful)

schneidafunk (795759) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031228)

You have to consider how hard it would be for a terrorist to take over a plane if it only takes a couple of minutes to fly from one destination to another. By the time you get up to attack the pilot, you've already landed!

Re:Security concerns (1)

Araneas (175181) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031441)

Ek=1/2m*v^2
Next time they won't need full fuel tanks to maximize the damage.

Re:Security concerns (1)

Ashe Tyrael (697937) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031571)

I suppose it depends. From what some of these articles have been saying, the scramjets need a stonkingly high altitude to actually work properly. Then too, at those speeds, if they weren't that high up, air-friction would melt the aircraft. If, by some chance, somebody did hijack a scramjet-equipped plane, they'd first have to get up to speed, which means going high. Then they'd have to come back down again. Chances are, if they didn't want to vapourise the plane, and defeat the object of crashing it into, say, the white house, they'd have to slow down, by which point theyre getting back into the realms where the craft can still be intercepted.

Anybody who knows anything about aircraft want to check that one over for flaws and loopholes?

Air as a medium compared to space (1)

schneidafunk (795759) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031216)

I'm not an aerospace engineer, but I do remember in physics that planes go 'up' by the lift compenent. This is dependent on creating a low pressure area above the wing.
However, I've often wondered how the physics change when you are approaching space and the air thins. Wings become less useful. This is evident with our hilarious looking space shuttles. We strap a bus onto 2 gigantic fuel sources, which don't rely on the lift compenent of regular planes and scram jets.

Very interesting technology (2, Insightful)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031528)

I just gave the article a read; very neat stuff. No moving parts for (basically) a very fast jet engine is nice. Also, it's possible to use hydrogen as fuel. Neat.

What i wonder is how feasible will it be to use in a passanger plane. The engine needs to have air fed in at Mach 3, and the article suggests using rockets. Those would need to be insanely big; and if you use a separate, "conventional" engine to reach that airspeed the aircraft becomes too complex.

Reusable engines for missiles ! (4, Insightful)

Barryke (772876) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031569)

From article [tipmagazine.com] , the last paragraph:
Demonstrating these technologies, along with additional ground- and flight-test experiments, will pave the way for affordable and reusable air-breathing hypersonic engines for missiles, long-range aircraft, and space-access vehicles around 2010, 2015, and 2025, respectively.

Uhh? "demonstrating..reusable..engines for missiles" ?

Are we talking 'homing nuke' ?

Re:Reusable engines for missiles ! (1)

lachlan76 (770870) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031671)

A scramjet could take it most of the way, drop off, and for the last X km it could be powered by conventional rockets.

The important thing is whether it's worth the effort to go and pick up missile engines from a hostile nation. I think not.

Re:Reusable engines for missiles ! (1)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 9 years ago | (#10031712)

At those speeds, you could even drop the engine and have the payload fly by itself to it's target, a-la-ballistic missile. If it's fast enough, you wouldn't even need explosives.
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