PurposeThis paper aims to present an aerothermodynamic analysis of a new concept of a small hypersonic airplane. Aerodynamics characteristics for different flow conditions encountered during the missions are analyzed. The effects of elevons deflection for pitch control and of the presence of engines on aerodynamic performances are also investigated for different flight conditions. The effects of boundary layer laminar–turbulent transition on aerodynamic heating are studied to preliminarily identify proper materials that can sustain the hypersonic phase.Design/methodology/approachAerodynamic characteristics are predicted by means of the semi-empirical aerodynamic prediction code Missile DATCOM and computational fluid dynamics simulations. Computational fluid dynamics analysis is also performed to investigate aerodynamic heating phenomenon.FindingsMajor discrepancies between the results offered by the two methods have been registered in transonic regime, whereas in subsonic and super-hypersonic conditions, Missile DATCOM confirms to be a suitable tool for preliminary design steps. The results of the analysis show that for the identification of the materials that can sustain the hypersonic phase, the turbulent solution must be taken into account. Carbon fiber reinforced ceramics composite materials seem particularly well suited for the nose, wing and vertical tail leasing edges and control surfaces, while titanium alloys could be used for the rest of the vehicle surface.Originality/valueThis new concept of vehicle is designed both for point-to-point medium range hypersonic transportation and long duration suborbital space tourism missions, by integrating available technologies developed for aeronautical and space systems.
Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 5, 2018
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