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What is Hypersonic?

In simple words, hypersonic are speeds that are greater than supersonics. Generally supersonic speeds refer to speeds above the velocity of sound in air (1 Mach). Hypersonic speeds, hence refer to speeds over 5 Mach.

A brief history.

The first ever hypersonic flight, V-2 rocket was used by the Germans in World war II. In February 1949, it reached the speeds above Mach 5 (8,288 km/h). In 1961, Russian Major Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel at hypersonic speeds; Alan shepherd became the second person to achieve speeds above Mach 5. In June 1961, Air Force Major Robert White flew the X-15 research airplane at speeds over Mach 5, and broke his own record in November, reaching Mach 6.7.

Why Hypersonics??
Hypersonics is like a next level to the Supersonics. Man always wants to go speeder than he is.


A ramjet is a form of jet engine using the engine's forward motion to compress incoming air, without a rotary compressor. Ramjets work most efficiently at speeds around Mach 3. Ramjets always slow the incoming air to a subsonic velocity within the combustor. Scramjets, or "supersonic combustion ramjet" are similar to ramjets, but some of the air goes through the entire engine at supersonic speeds.

What is a scramjet?

Scramjets work on a simple idea. The liquid oxygen tanks that are usually an integral part of the rocket makes it look big. If these oxygen tanks are eliminated and the required oxygen is taken from the atmosphere, the rockets can be made lighter, smaller and faster. On August 16, 2002, the University of Queensland in Australia completed the first successful flight of a scramjet vehicle, reaching speeds of Mach 7

What makes it complex?

The first hypersonic rocket, V-2 rocket, though it reached speeds above Mach 5 it burned up on reentry. The temperature of the flow around the aircraft is so great that the chemistry of the gas must also be considered. When an aircraft reaches hypersonic speed, the amount of pressure it generates increases to 25 times the atmospheric pressure. High-speed flight has a significant effect on airflow that is related to the elasticity of the air, due to which the air around the aircraft undergoes large changes in pressure, density, and temperature.

Advances till date?

Research is being done in this field since the 1900s. USA, Germany, The Soviet Union and Japan designed many hypersonic aircrafts, each superseding the previous ones. X-15, X-37, X-43, X-51 are few notable hypersonic aircrafts of NASA.


X - 51

X 43a Scramjet

Scramjet 385

Future scope?
Hypersonic airplanes have a wide scope in various fields. Hyper-fast aircrafts can be used to detect and destroy enemy missile launchers. Due its enormous speeds it cannot be recognized by enemy radars. Hypersonic aircrafts can be used to study the outer space characteristics, contributing to space technology.

Thank you.