Hypersonic Aerospace Technologies and TR 3B’s Incredible Power

Hypersonic aerospace planes are deep into development although commercial versions are likely 15 years away.

lockheed-sr72-hypersonic-spy-plane

Picture credit: Northrop-Grumman

According to LiveScience, “Hypersonic aircraft and weapons that can fly more than five times the speed of sound may seem like a futuristic fantasy, but defense giant Lockheed Martin says it is committed to making these ultrafast innovations a reality.” In fact, the SR-72 hypersonic spy plane.(successor to the famous manned SR-71 spy plane) flies at nearly Mach 6 and is unmanned as it soars in the exo-atmosphere. Hypersonic speeds exceed Mach 5 or 3,800 miles an hour or about 7X faster than a conventional airliner. The SR-71 was designed as a spy plane for the CIA in the 60s and designated the A-12. The Mach 3 plus aircraft first flew in 1962, taking off from Groom AFB in Area 51. Later, once the Air Force operated it as a reconnaissance plane, it was designated the SR-71 black-bird, according to Edgar Fouche, a talented USAF engineer and programmer.

But Lockheed scientists are designing vehicles that could cross the Pacific Ocean in 90 minutes traveling at 4 miles a second or 14,500 miles an hour ! “Lockheed Martin continues to invest in propulsion technologies and advanced materials needed for hypersonic speeds,” Marillyn A. Hewson, Lockheed Martin president and CEO, said in a statement on March 15. “We’re now producing a controllable, low-drag, aerodynamic configuration capable of stable operation from takeoff, to subsonic, transonic, supersonic and hypersonic to Mach 6.” [Supersonic! The 11 Fastest Military Airplanes]

Hypersonic vehicles at $1B each copy are considered the new “stealth planes” and space is steadily being militarized. A newer hypersonic aircraft includes DARPA’s experimental Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2)  which achieved a stunning Mach 20 (about 13,000 mph, or 20,921km/h) in its second test flight in 2011. The HTV-2 and SR-72 represent a combined cycle propulsion approach for hypersonics, which use ramjet engines to fly at hypersonic speeds but require a different kind of propulsion to get them to Mach 5. In addition to hypersonic aircraft, Lockheed Martin is developing hypersonic weapons, including their “Hypersonic Air-Breathing Weapon Concept.” Technically, hypersonic weaponry already exists: The Navy’s electromagnetic railgun shoots a projectile at Mach 5.

The precursors of these planes included the SR 74 which was a ’70s era exo-atmospheric vehicle that had to be piggybacked into low earth orbit. It’s big brother, the SR 75, was a 162′ foot long and 98′ wide hypersonic vehicle that provided the core engineering for the TR 3B Astra 5. (more on this 600 foot triangle flying platform with stunning military feats).

Check out this video of the TR 3B in action in Afghanistan and Syria:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGELziXtUoU   and  https://youtu.be/eqHeExVxOG8

tr3bastra5

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