Collaboration between students and industry on a project to improve the accuracy of hypersonic engine testing is moving forward with the unveiling at the University of Virginia (UVa.) of a full-scale mock-up of a scramjet experiment to be flown in 2012.
Graduate and undergraduate students at UVa.’s School of Engineering and Applied Science are working with faculty and industry on the Hy-V program to ground- and flight-test a scramjet to develop improved methods of testing hypersonic engines.
A scramjet payload designed by UVa with Allied Techsystems’ (ATK) GASL division is planned to fly from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia in 2012, says Chris Goyne, research assistant professor of aerospace engineering and principal investigator for the flight mission.
The payload has two hydrogen-fueled scramjet flowpaths and will be boosted to 92,000 ft. and Mach 5 by a NASA-supplied Terrier-Improved Orion two-stage sounding rocket, which will stay attached to the second stage throughout the flight, Goyne says.
Rather than testing a specific flowpath design, Hy-V is “a representation of [a] scramjet to develop methodologies and learn lessons for ground test and flight test,” Goyne says. Inlets and combustion chambers are similar to a scramjet, he says, but not the nozzles.
One of the flowpaths is based on a design UVa has tested in its direct-connect hypersonic wind tunnel. The other has changes to the combustor to make it more representative of a real scramjet, Goyne says. Both have rectangular, two-dimensional flowpaths.
Though design of the flight payload is complete, fabrication is on hold pending the completion for freejet wind-tunnel testing of both scramjet flowpaths now under way at ATK GASL, he says.
Hy-V is being funded by the Defense Department. Because the program involves graduate and undergraduate students at UVa and Virginia Tech, NASA Wallops is providing the sounding rocket and range services under its university outreach effort.
The level of student involvement is unusual for a scramjet test program, Goyne believes. Graduate students are collaborating with ATK on design and testing of the payload, while undergraduates are working with Aerojet on different aspects of the flight mission.
“They are involved in design of the payload, wind-tunnel testing and the design of subsystems. It’s a great opportunity for them to work side-by-side with faculty and industry and gives them a head start,” he says.