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Goddard Space Flight Center Engineering Colloquium

Date: Monday, November 22, 1999

Title: Air-Breathing Engines That Fly Into Orbit

Speaker: Charles McClinton


For years, engineers have dreamed of building an aircraft that could reach hypersonic speeds, greater than 5 times the speed of sound.Propelled by a special type of air breathing engine, a high performance hypersonic craft can even fly to orbit.  This possibility was first considered over 40 years ago. Recently, as technology matured and demand for more efficient space access grows, scientists have begun to seriously consider such systems for access to space. This presentation will include basic description, capabilities, and status of the scramjet derived air breathing space access propulsion systems. This highly integrated scramjet-powered vehicle technology will be demonstrated for the first time with flights of the NASA X-43 Mach 7 scramjet powered vehicle in the spring of 2000. Status of the X-43program, and plans for future development will also be discussed. Horizontal take-off and landing space access systems are a primary focus of this technology development, which could change the way we go to orbit in 20 years.

Speaker Bio

Mr. McClinton is Technology Manager for the Hyper-X Program, a position he has held since 1996.  In this role he is responsible for the Hyper-X vehicle definition to meet mission requirements, delivery of government furnished items to the contractor team, wind tunnel testing, and hypersonic technology development.  Prior to that, he was selected to form and lead the Numerical Applications Office of the National Aero-Space Plane Office, to provide flow field details using the state-of-the-art Computational Fluid Dynamics methods.  Mr. McClinton has held positions in the Conceptual Studies Office of the Hypersonic Vehicles Office, and 18 years in wind tunnel testing of scramjet engines and components.  He received his B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1967 and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from George Washington University in 1971. He has authored numerous publications, and is currently the Chairman of the JANNAF Airbreathing Propulsion Subcommittee.  He has received several awards including the NASP Gene Zara Award, and NASA's Medal for Exceptional Engineering Achievement. 

Colloquium Committee Sponsor: Jeff Greenwell

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