According to a study by scientists in the nation’s Mars and moon missions, Chinese researchers have presented a new design concept for a hypersonic aircraft that is larger than a Boeing 737. In addition, a new aerodynamic model has been used to evaluate the plane’s performance at high altitudes.
At 45 metres (148 feet), the plane appears a third longer than a 737-700, and the design consists of two air-breathing engines attached on top of its main body. The plane has a pair of delta wings resembling those of the Concorde but with tips directing upwards.
With such a unique model, various challenges might be faced during the flight, especially when the plane goes into hypersonic mode or faster than the sound of speed.
However, the researchers came up with a solution while examining the areas on the plane that required extra attention. At Mach 6 (six times the speed of sound – 7,344km/h or 4,447mph), all such areas need a strong guard so that they can bear solid pressures and high temperatures.
Research findings would include “applications in similar engineering projects”, said Liu Rui of the Beijing Institute of Technology and collaborators from the Institute of Spacecraft System Engineering in a paper published in the journal Physics of Gases.
Mars landing and lunar rock sample missions required spacecraft to travel in the atmosphere at hypervelocity. Unfortunately, China did not have sufficient data required to get on the Martian land.
According to state media, Liu is the chief scientist in both these missions. According to Science and Technology Daily, his models played a pivotal role in improving the Chinese spacecraft’s aerodynamic design and flight path planning. Liu’s efforts could be seen in the two successful missions completed by China in the first attempt.
If we observe China’s hi-tech goals, Hypersonic aircraft seems to be the most eminent and has contributed a lot to the sector. According to an official timeline revealed last month, by 2025, China’s goal is to validate the hypersonic flight mechanism, including a new air-breathing engine that can drive an aircraft to rocket speed.
And after a decade, the country‘s goal is to run a fleet of hypersonic aircraft that can transport 10 passengers to anywhere on Earth within a span of 60 minutes. In addition, by 2045, these planes will fly with more than 100 passengers per flight.
Hypersonic planes can function at 100th of the cost of rockets as they get oxygen from the air. As a result, China will be able to transport more than 10,000 tonnes of cargo and more than 10,000 passengers to space stations in near-Earth orbit or on the moon per year.
Currently, the plane is used for military purposes. Travelling in the existing version of the plane wouldn’t be the best option right now as its enormous engine and air inlets have taken all of the space. Plus, it is hard to have a smooth flight with strong turbulence triggering extreme heat and vibration.
At the National Day parade in 2019, the military demonstrated a fleet of DF-17 missiles for the first time.
China and Russia have taken the lead in hypersonic weapon development over recent years. However, with the world’s most powerful hypersonic wind tunnel, China has taken the top score.
In 2019, the US military claimed that China was directing more hypersonic flights in a year than it had in a decade.