What is it about?

Hypersonic airbreathing vehicles offer a fundamentally different way of delivering satellites, by 'flying to space' rather than launching on a rocket. We explore the design of such a vehicle through computational fluid dynamics simulations, focusing on the surfaces that produce thrust. We show that from seemingly small design changes to these areas, a very wide range in performance is possible and explore the thrust gains, penalties, and trade-offs associated with each design change.

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Why is it important?

Year on year, the demand for launch services increases. While nonetheless incredible, rockets are an antiquated technology and operate close to theoretical limits. Through maturing work as we present here, existing technologies such as airbreathing engines and reusable hypersonic vehicles will enable routine, 'airline-like' operations thus enabling the future growth of the industry while keeping costs in check.

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This page is a summary of: Parametric Study of the Aftbody Design of an Airbreathing Hypersonic Accelerator, Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, April 2021, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), DOI: 10.2514/1.a34983.
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