2020 Hypersonics Course

The national security of the United States is currently threatened by the development in other countries of highly maneuverable hypersonic weapons systems with very long range and flexible trajectory capabilities. These can operate both within the atmosphere or in suborbital flight. Such vehicles overcome the weaknesses of intercontinental ballistic missiles resulting from their readily predictable and easily tracked flight paths. The inauguration of the new U.S. Space Force USSF) is a recent step in the provision of “prompt and sustained space operations,” which would clearly oversee the development of an appropriate response to the threat of hypersonic weapons systems.

This four-day short course is designed to provide an in-depth review of the current state of hypersonic flight technology with a focus on the application of this technology in the design and operation of hypersonic missiles, cruise vehicles, defensive systems, and single-stage to orbit operations. A detailed picture of all aspects of the required technology is presented; access to the vast literature on the engineering principles of hypersonic vehicle design is provided.


• Provide a detailed historical description of the origins of key elements of hypersonic technology and the myriad attempts to apply the technology to practical flight vehicles. Engineering and administrative errors leading to failed programs.

• Provide a careful review of the physical and mathematical principles needed to understand hypersonic aerodynamics, propulsion system design, trajectory and flight path analysis, guidance and control strategies, hypersonic vehicle structures and thermal control, launch systems.

• Provide an understanding of the special analytical, computational, and experimental tools needed in successful creation of a hypersonic vehicle with special emphasis on the need for computational fluid dynamics (CFD) techniques.

• Provide a picture of the current hypersonics state-of-the-art now available in this country as compared to that in other countries.

• Identify various mission profiles and associated operational and vehicle design implications.

• Identify unsolved developmental problem areas requiring renewed attention.


• Evolution of hypersonic flight technology; case studies and lessons learned.

• Hypersonic aerodynamics and application in high-speed vehicle design and propulsion system integration. Review of shock and expansion waves, hypersonic similarity principles, approximate analyses that reveal important features of the flow field and the resultant forces and moments on the vehicle. Improvement of the aerodynamic force calculation by means of CFD computations. Aerodynamic design to optimize vehicle lift-to-drag ratio. Application of waverider aerodynamic design principles.

• Selection and analysis of hypersonic propulsions systems. Air-breathing systems (SCRAMJET); solid and liquid propellant rockets. Predicting and measuring propulsion system performance. Nozzle design. Combustion effects: supersonic combustion and unsteady flow problems. Fuel injectors optimization. Analysis of mixing. Scramjet variable geometry optimization and flow field control.

• Hypersonic vehicle design. Propulsion/airframe integration, ground based experimental testing and performance simulation. Flight testing.

• Structural analysis. Handling of high-temperature aerodynamic heating loads.

Selection of materials. Computational techniques for thermal/stress analysis.

• Mission analysis, trajectory design and flight path optimization, guidance and control strategies employing inertial, GPS and optical systems. Maneuvering strategies in high Mach number flight. Vehicle stability and control. Skip-glide trajectory design and relationship to mission requirements.

• Launch systems and their dependence on propulsion system design. How mission requirements impact the launch strategy.

• Breakthroughs in hypersonic technologies. Innovative fuel tankage and other design features that lead to single-stage-to-orbit capability.