The need for speed in space

Dec. 11, 2003
Researchers from Sandia National Laboratories are developing reentry technology for NASA's Hypersonic Technology Experiment (HyTEx).

Hypersonic technologies include many technical disciplines involving high-speed aerodynamic modeling, aerothermal analysis, high-temperature materials, and navigation, guidance, and control. Sandia's David Keese, deputy director for Strike Systems says the design challenges of the program included adapting the flight-vehicle design to different potential booster designs, and devising a recovery system that permits postflight examination of the integrated experiments.

HyTEx project manager, Mike Macha, says Sandia's work could significantly impact several hypersonic technology initiatives. "There is a resurgent and even urgent interest in developing a new generation of vehicles for rapid, long-range military capability and for reliable, affordable access to space," he says. "One immediate challenge is deciding which subset of candidate technology areas to invest in," he adds. "During the first year we have gone through a discovery phase that includes understanding the current level of development and the time frame for maturation of these technologies."

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