DARPA seeks $750m for hypersonic roboplane testbed
Bad news for tinfoil-sporting 'Aurora' diehards
DARPA*, the Pentagon research hothouse where only the most exotic notions bloom on a rich mulch of taxpayer greenbacks, is bidding for a cool three-quarter-billion in funds to build a hypersonic plane.
Reports of the "Blackswift" project - a refinement of the HTV-3X demonstrator plan mooted under DARPA's Falcon scheme - emerged last year. Now, according to reports, 2009 funding requests going before American legislators contain an item of $0.75bn for DARPA to take the project forward. If all goes well, the US air force will take it over in time.
The plans call for a fighter-sized, probably unmanned testbed aircraft which is thought likely to burn fairly ordinary hydrocarbon fuel in turbo/ram jets based on the same kind of technology as the late, great Mach-3.5 SR71 "Blackbird" spyplane of Cold War fame. Reliable sources suggest that speeds of Mach 6 plus could be on the cards this time. That would normally be into hydrogen scramjet territory, but some researchers think that heavier fuel can be burnt practically in a supersonic airflow. Others reckon that intake air could be slowed using magnetohydrodynamics, and the energy put back in downstream of the combustion chamber.
Bad news, this, for those who contend that America has been operating a top-secret hypersonic SR71 replacement all along. If the legendary "Aurora" really exists, Blackswift is shaping up to be the most expensive and elaborate disinformation ploy ever. ®
*Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency
Anti-gravity driven flying saucers.
Obviously they have these. The additional budget is for anti-gravity driven flying cups to put on them.
There's some weird thinking going on.
Slowing the intake air with a magnetohydrodynamic system?
1: It needs the intake air to be ionised.
2: OK, you generate electricity, and use it in a second MHD system to accelerate the exhaust gas. That's a lot of energy to be throwing around, and what's the conversion efficiency?
3: This same problem is the critical weakness in the Bussard Ramjet concept. Was Aurora a prototype interstellar probe?
Thinks about posting "Hypersonic Overlord" message,
but decides not to bother.