2019 - Year of the Hypersonics
|Source: DARPA Hypersonic Concept Vehicle|
DARPA's MACH Program
The big challenge with hypersonic jets is to keep them cool as they reach a speed of Mach 5 and above. The US Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency - DARPA - has declared 2019 the year of hypersonics. DARPA is pursuing new materials and designs for cooling the hot, leading edges of hypersonic vehicles as they accelerate to hypersonic speeds.
New Architecture, Materials and Design for Heat Management
The new program is called MACH - Materials, Architecture and Characterization for Hypersonics (MACH) program. DARPA wants totally new, breakthrough technology, not evolutionary improvements on existing technology.
Decades of Trying
Effective cool down of the hypersonic vehicles at Mach 5 and above is the key factor between success and disaster. The DARPA MACH programs kicks off in late January 2019. According to DARPA Program Manager Bill Carter, scientists have tried for decades to find a means of cooling the hot, leading edges of hypersonic vehicles. But there have been no practical concepts in flight. The key to success, according to Carter, is "developing scalable materials architecture that enables mass transit to spread and reject heat." That innovation would usher in the age of hypersonic flight. For more news stories on hypersonic travel and other innovations, go to my journalist colleague Ed Kane's Author page at amazon.com/author/ekane