A comparative analysis of the performance of long-range hypervelocity vehicles

Alfred J. Eggers, Jr., H. Julian Allen, Stanford E. Neice

Long-range hypervelocity vehicles are studied in terms of their motion in powered flight. Powered flight is analyzed for an idealized propulsion system which approximates rocket motors. Unpowered flight is characterized by a return to earth along a ballistic, skip, or glide trajectory. Only those trajectories are treated which yield the maximum range for a given velocity at the end of powered flight. Aerodynamic heating is treated in a manner similar to that employed previously by the senior authors in studying ballistic missiles (NACA rep. 1381), with the exception that radiant as well as convective heat transfer is considered in connection with glide and skip vehicles. As a final performance consideration, it is shown that on the basis of equal ratios of mass at take-off to mass at the end of powered flight, the hypervelocity vehicle compares favorably with the supersonic airplane for ranges in the neighborhood of and greater than one half the circumference of the earth. In the light of this and previous findings, it is concluded that the ballistic and glide vehicles have, in addition to the advantages usually ascribed to great speed, the attractive possibility of providing relatively efficient long-range flight.

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