Broadcast 1381 (Special Edition)

19 Jun 2010 Joseph T. Vogel
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Guest: Joe Vogel. Topics: Boeing X-51A Waverider, hypersonics, scramjets. We welcomed the Program Manager for the X-51A Hypersonic Flight Vehicle, Joseph T. Vogel, who is also the Director of Hypersonics in Boeing Phantom Works/Defense Space & Security. In our first segment, we started off with some basic descriptions and definitions for hypersonic vehicles, scramjets, ramjets, along with the mission profile for flight testing X-51A. We discussed the fuels used, the temperatures reached in flight, flight parameters as well as the results of the first flight. In talking about the actual test flight, Mr. Vogel described the flight, the engine burn, and the anomaly they recorded through to the destruction as planned of the vehicle. Our guest received many listener questions asking about things like skip trajectory as well as being able to go to space from the atmosphere and the difference in going from Mach 5 to Mach 26 or 27 should the vehicle go to space. Mr. Vogel also fielded questions about hydrocarbon fuels and the upper limits that could be reached using such fuels, for example Mach 8. In our second segment, we talked about the vehicle and its role for national security, trade-offs with air and Oxygen to get out of the atmosphere and more. Suborbital transportation for Point to Point was discussed. In response to a question about the estimated cost to take the vehicle commercial, Mr. Vogel said it would be many billions. I also asked him about hypersonic work in other countries and he said that as far as he knew, the US was leading the pack in this type of vehicle R&D. Later in this segment, he provided us with some interesting flying times between destinations for both a commercial jet and what a hypersonic would do. He did three comparisons including Los Angeles to New York, Los Angeles to London, and Los Angeles to Australia. Don't miss this comparison discussion. Also in this segment, Joe talked about the materials still needed and said that finally technology is catching up with the concept. A listener asked about the challenges in reverse engineering a project. John in Atlanta brought up the idea to capture air and to liquefy the oxygen out of it in flight to provide oxidizer for the pure rocket driven part of a trip to orbit. This would reduce take of weight and improve total performance. Joe discussed this during the program. We talked about the type of team he had to develop X-51A and then concluded the program with his telling us his experience in talking with kids about how inspired they became by learning about X-51A. You don't want to miss what he said about this project and others contributing to STEM education in this country. If you have a comment or question for Joe Vogel, please send it to me at and I will forward it to him.



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