Reusable Hypersonic X-Plane
Sizeable international defense R&D spending on hypersonics has become an inflection point for the technology. In today’s new great power competition, nation-states are deploying expendable hypersonic systems right now. Forward-looking governments have plans to develop the next big leap, reusable hypersonic systems, well before 2030. The mid-2020s will see the design and flight of reusable uncrewed hypersonic X-planes to de-risk technologies in materials and propulsion. Flight test is the ONLY way to validate hypersonic technology, as no ground based wind tunnel can replicate all the necessary physics.
The hypersonic X-planes will lay the groundwork for dual-use commercial hypersonic civil transport in the early 2030s, as discussed in the commercial hypersonic aviation node.
To learn more about the physics of hypersonic flight, the engineering challenges, and the promising technologies we are tracking at Prime Movers Lab, check out the following blog post, High-Speed Flight: Hypersonics Is So Hot Right Now.