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Two methods can be used to achieve the Vulcan hypersonic engine

DARPA held an industry day where it outlined some of its plans for hypersonic aircraft of the future. The program being shown off at the industry day was the DARPA Vulcan project. The project centers around developing an aircraft that uses a constant volume combustion (CVC) engine capable of flight at speeds from a standstill to Mach 4 and over.

Aviation Week’s Ares blog reports that the first part of the program was an introduction to the problem the program faces -- how exactly to accelerate an aircraft from a stop to speeds fast enough to activate a supersonic-combustion ramjet.

The program has some interesting slides and information (PDF) from the famed Lockheed Skunk Works HTV-3X flight demonstration vehicle that was conceived as part of the DARPA Falcon program. One of the slides gives an idea of the size of the HTV-3X vehicle by comparing it to the Have Blue aircraft that ended up being about 60% of the F-117 stealth fighter.

The Lockheed HTV-3X vehicle itself has been superseded by the DARPA Blackswift hypersonic program DailyTech has covered before. The engine that DARPA envisions for the Vulcan project is a CVC and turbojet combination.

According to Ares two methods can be used to achieve this type of engine. In one method a common air inlet would be used for both the turbojet engine that is to carry the aircraft from a stop to Mach 4 and higher speeds and the CVC that would take over at propel the aircraft to Mach 6 and over. This method is called turbine-based combined cycle.

The second method to achieve the engine needed is called an annular approach and would embed a turbojet inside a CVC ramjet engine. The big challenge here is that the turbojet would have to be cocooned when the CVC is active to protect it from the high heat produced inside the Vulcan engine over Mach 2.

Because a turbojet capable of propelling a aircraft over Mach 4 would be large and expensive to develop, DARPA instead wants to take a conventional Mach 2 turbojet and combine it with a CVC to get an engine capable of high Mach speeds, but at much cheaper development costs.

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RE: Better idea
By nosfe on 6/26/2008 1:41:31 PM , Rating: 4
and what would we do there? have a picnic with Marvin?

RE: Better idea
By Mitch101 on 6/26/2008 1:47:58 PM , Rating: 5
How about we activate the martian air generators.

RE: Better idea
By ajfink on 6/26/08, Rating: -1
RE: Better idea
By Screwballl on 6/26/2008 2:35:56 PM , Rating: 5
Google this: movie Total Recall

Kuato demands it

RE: Better idea
By gyranthir on 6/26/2008 2:00:24 PM , Rating: 2
Arnold Shwarzenegger called he wants his plot back.

RE: Better idea
By G2cool on 6/26/2008 2:55:50 PM , Rating: 5
Umm... I don't believe Arnold Shwarzenegger has ever been involved with any sort of plot.

RE: Better idea
By RjBass on 6/26/2008 11:35:13 PM , Rating: 2
Thats a 6 right there. ^^^

RE: Better idea
By althaz on 6/27/2008 3:42:39 AM , Rating: 2
Everybody was thinking that, kudos to you for saying it :).

RE: Better idea
By m1ldslide1 on 6/26/2008 1:56:06 PM , Rating: 2
I would guess that we'd start developing a martian military industrial complex.

RE: Better idea
By djc208 on 6/27/2008 2:06:17 PM , Rating: 2
Right, need to start taking over those hostile asteroids, I hear they may be considered weapons of mass destruction.

RE: Better idea
By HighWing on 6/27/2008 4:00:33 PM , Rating: 2
Well for starters we would need a faster way to move supplies there before we could even do anything in the first place. So "getting" there in a reasonable amount of time IS the first big step to any kind of project involving another planet.

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home
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