Avoiding missles, etc doesn't count if it can't get there and burns up on the way. Far better is skipping off the atmosphere or full space flight, both are far easier to do, have far more range, payload. And they are far safer from countermeasures.
There is not much that can withstand 5000F or so the ship has to endure. If you make it bigger for payload, the drag, heat just increases.
I'm having a hard problem find metals, etc that can withstand just 1500F with a decent lifetime which hasn't been easy. Much less the temps a hypersonic craft has to endure.
Over 2500mph just isn't smart in the atmosphere and this, every test before proves this. No?
So please tell me how far can they go and how much payload can they carry? Enquiring minds want to know?
All they need to do is get some materials from one of those UFO's at Area 51 - problem solved! :)
I guess the point is that you'll never know if you don't try. I'm sure they learned a lot about shockwaves that will probably be useful in other applications, including slower speed craft.
It seems to me that ceramics is the answer here - our current technology can handle 2k-3k degree temperatures. I'm not sure how they would hold up to shockwaves since they can be brittle, but at that speed and temperature they may actually be a bit more flexible.
Flying fast within the atmosphere has its applications - there will be times that going out of the atmosphere simply isn't practical - short range applications, for example. I cannot imagine the sonic properties of something travelling Mach 20, it would certainly not be a stealth vehicle; but when you're going that fast you don't need to be stealth.
New versions of BASF's Ecovio line are both compostable and designed for either injection molding or thermoforming. These combinations are becoming more common for the single-use bioplastics used in food service and food packaging applications, but are still not widely available.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.