Hypersonic Flight Vehicle Design and Performance Analysis


Instructed by Members of the Hypersonic Technologies and Space Planes (HyTASP) Technical Committee: Profs. Frank Lu and Luca Maddalena, University of Texas at Arlington; Mr. Paul Hagseth and Dr. Dennis Finley, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics; Dr. Kevin Bowcutt, Boeing Research & Technology

  • Instructed by premiere experts from Academia and Industry
  • All students will receive an AIAA Certificate of Completion at the end of the course

Hypersonic flight has once again risen to prominence as a topic of high national interest. Current US and international programs range from hypersonic cruise vehicles (HCV) and transatmospheric vehicles (TAV), to maneuverable hypersonic glide vehicles (HGV) and hypersonic interceptors. The design and performance analysis of these vehicles is challenging because of the wide range of flight conditions encountered, and the critical importance of maintaining acceptable fuel mass fractions. These constraints impose severe challenges to designers, requiring innovative component designs and careful integration of the various components to achieve an efficient flight vehicle. This course will educate the attendee on principles and methods to better address these challenges.

This 20-hour course will cover airbreathing hypersonic flight vehicles, emphasizing propulsion systems that range from ramjets, scramjets, dual-mode scramjets, turbine-based and rocket-based combined cycles to pre-cooled engine cycles. Topics will include an introduction to hypersonic flight from a historical perspective, design challenges, vehicle performance requirements, design methodology, aerodynamics, propulsion, structures, flight mechanics/stability & control, thermal management, design convergence, off-design performance analysis, the role of CFD, ground & flight testing, and conclude with a review of ongoing international programs.


  • Awareness of hypersonic flight vehicle development from a historical perspective
  • Knowledge of performance requirements for air-breathing hypersonic flight vehicles
  • Ability to perform aerothermodynamic cycle analysis
  • Knowledge of supersonic mixing problems
  • Design and performance analysis of vehicle aerodynamics, propulsion, structures and materials
  • Understanding the aerothermodynamic flight environment
  • Introduction to design issues, design methodology and design convergence.
  • Understanding the role of CFD, ground testing and flight testing.
  • Awareness of current international hypersonic vehicle development programs
  • [See full outline below]

The course is designed for project engineers, researchers, students, scientists and managers engaged in research, design, development, and testing of hypersonic vehicles.


Type of Course: Instructor-Led Short Course
Course Level: Intermediate
Course Length: 3 days
AIAA CEU's available: Yes

This course is also available on-demand.

  • Introduction / Historical Review. Introduction to hypersonic vehicle design from a historical perspective, hypersonic flight vehicle programs in the US are traced from the early 60’s to current active programs.
  • Design Challenges. Major hypersonic vehicle design and performance challenges will be reviewed, such as: large variations in aerodynamic and propulsion response with Mach number; extreme thermal environments that drive material options, structural concepts and thermal protection/management, configuration impacts of very large propellant fractions, and the high degree of vehicle system/component integration required to achieve acceptable performance.
  • Mission Performance Requirements. Hypersonic flight corridor for air-breathing flight vehicles, equations of motion, the importance of fuel and empty mass fractions; overall efficiency and specific impulse requirements for accelerators, hypersonic cruise vehicles, and transatmospheric flight vehicles.
  • Design Methodology. Design configuration options will be presented and the pros and cons of each will be discussed, design parameters and geometric quantities that drive vehicle performance will be defined and viable ranges identified for different missions, the importance and value of multidisciplinary design analysis and optimization (MDAO) will be described and an MDAO approach with results will be presented.
  • Vehicle Aerodynamics. Characterization of hypersonic flow, description of impact theory and comparison to CFD; discussion of low-density effects, viscous interaction, strong shock flows and high-temperature effects; force accounting for an air breathing vehicle.
  • Air-breathing Hypersonic Propulsion Systems. Aerothermodynamic analysis of ramjets and scramjets, stream thrust analysis; design and performance analysis of inlets, inlet isolators, burners and nozzles; combined cycle propulsion systems, development of an integrated hypersonic engine code using the NPSS Platform.
  • Mixing Problems in Supersonic Combustion. Scramjet fuel injectors and injection system requirements. supersonic mixing fundamentals, turbulent shear-layers, compressibility effects and growth rate scaling, transverse jet in supersonic crossflow, ramp injectors, aeroramp injector, cavity-based fuel injectors, hypermixer-type injector, staged injection, mixing efficiency, the scalability challenge, mixing enhancement strategies, vortex-based fuel injection system, scramjet flowpath design.
  • Structures & Materials. High temperature structural design methodology, selection of materials driven by TPS/TMS, thermal/mechanical stress analyses as basis for sizing structure elements, structural mass fraction and its impact on required fuel mass fraction.
  • Vehicle Aerothermodynamic Environment. Description of real-gas effects, aerodynamic heating prediction techniques, description of boundary-layer transition mechanisms and state-of-the-art methods for predicting transition, application of ground testing.
  • Vehicle Stability/Control. Flight regimes for hypersonic vehicles, examples of the effect of Mach number on stability coefficients, requirements development in pitch, yaw, and roll axes.
  • Design Convergence. Definition and layout of the vehicle concept including propulsion flowpath, aerodynamics and controls, basic structural design and thermal management, analysis of performance of components and total vehicle system will be described along with examples of technical options to achieve a “converged” vehicle concept.
  • The Role of CFD Simulation, Ground & Flight Testing. Understanding the hypersonic environment, what can CFD do, wind tunnels - Mach ranges, enthalpy, test section size; flight testing - rocket boosted, air launched, horizontal takeoff; instrumentation for ground and flight testing, future test requirements.
  • Review of Ongoing International Programs. Summary of past and present international hypersonics programs.

Instructors (from the AIAA Hypersonic Technologies and Space Planes (HyTASP) Technical Committee) 

Dr. Kevin Bowcutt, Boeing Research & Technology. Dr. Kevin G. Bowcutt is a Principal Senior Technical Fellow & Chief Scientist of Hypersonics for Boeing with 38 years of experience. He is an AIAA Fellow, a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He holds BS, MS and PhD degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland. Dr. Bowcutt is an internationally recognized expert in hypersonic aerodynamics, propulsion integration, and vehicle design and optimization. Notable accomplishments include developing the viscous-optimized hypersonic waverider; flight testing scramjets by shooting them from a light gas gun; originating and optimizing the design of the X-51A scramjet-powered demo vehicle; helping the Space Shuttle Columbia accident investigation by simulating wing aero-thermal-structural failure; and leading Boeing’s contributions to the HIFiRE international hypersonic flight experiment program. In the spring semester of 2007 Dr. Bowcutt was a visiting professor at Princeton University’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department where he taught a course in hypersonic airplane design. Dr. Bowcutt leads Boeing’s advanced design efforts for hypersonic missiles, airplanes and space-planes, and is the technical lead for Boeing’s hypersonic passenger airplane program.

Dr. Dennis FinleyLockheed Martin Aeronautics.  Dr. Finley is a Lockheed Martin Fellow.  He provides technical leadership and oversight of aerodynamic and stability/control prediction for a variety of flight vehicle development efforts. Over the course of his 40+ year career Dr. Finley has developed and applied conceptual methods, linear-theory and impact-theory codes, and CFD methods.  He has worked on conceptual, preliminary and flight vehicle projects that encompass VSTOL, transonic, and hypersonic flows.  He has conducted wind tunnel testing in a variety of facilities to support the development of aerodynamic databases for these vehicles. Besides his work responsibilities Dr. Finley is also serving as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Arlington. Dr. Finley is an Associate Fellow of AIAA.

Mr. Paul Hagseth, Lockheed Martin (retired). Mr. Hagseth is recently retired from Lockheed Martin's Skunkworks and currently consults and is an Adjunct Professor at UTA. He has worked on a number of fighter and hypersonic research and aircraft programs. In the area of hypersonics, he has managed vehicle design and integration studies including aerodynamic, propulsion integration and thermal/structural design for Mach 4 to 10 vehicles and the National Aerospace Plane Program (NASP). He has also worked on a number of propulsion programs including high Mach gas turbine engines (GTEs), GTE/ramjet, GTE/dual-mode ramjet, ejector and pressure gain combustion cycles as well as air induction and exhaust systems.

Dr. Frank Lu, University of Texas at Arlington. Dr. Lu is a Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the UT Arlington. He has worked in an academic setting in experimental aerodynamics and aerospace propulsion for over 35 years, as well as consulted in these areas.  His primary expertise is in shock/boundary-layer interactions and in applications of detonations for aerospace propulsion and in aerodynamics test facilities. He co-edited an AIAA Progress Series volume entitled Advanced Hypersonic Test Facilities, which was well received by the aero-test community.  He is lead author in an upcoming book on Hypersonic Vehicle Design, to be published by AIAA.  Dr. Lu earned his degrees from Cambridge, Princeton and Penn State.  He is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the International Shock Wave Institute, Life Fellow of AIAA, and a Fellow of ASME and RAeS.  He was a Princeton Guggenheim Fellow (1979), and NSF ICORP Fellow (2016).  He was Visiting Professor/Scholar at the National University ofChina), and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.  He has delivered numerous keynote and p Singapore, University of Manchester, State Key Laboratory for Aerodynamics (lenary lectures, as well as short courses in experimental methods and propulsion.   He is active in AIAA activities, having served as Editor-in-Chief of the Progress Series and as Vice President of Publications amongst various roles.  Presently, he is a member of the AIAA Hypersonic Technologies and Aerospace Planes Technical Committee and the AIAA Pressure Gain Combustion Technical Committee.

Dr. Luca Maddalena, University of Texas at Arlington. Dr. Maddalena is a Professor of Aerospace Engineering and the Director of the Aerodynamics Research Center, ARC. He is responsible for research operations in its low-speed wind tunnel, transonic Ludwieg tube tunnel (0.4< M <1.25), supersonic blow-down tunnel (1.5< M <4), detonation-driven shock tunnel (6< M <16), and the 1.6 MW arc jet facility, as well as pulsed and continuous detonation wave engine test cells. His research, primarily experimental, focuses on fundamental investigations of mixing and combustion in turbulent supersonic flows, and their application to hypersonic airbreathing propulsion, and on reusable thermal protection systems and thermal management for sustained hypersonic flight. His work has been funded by NASA LaRC (Hypervelocity Propulsion, Mach 8+), the Office of Naval Research for his contribution to the Strike WEApon Program (SWEAP) and Arc-Jet Flow Characterization, the Joint Hypersonics Transition Office (JHTO) on directed energy radiation for hypersonic applications, the Department of Energy on cold plasma, the Air Force Research Laboratory on the Next Generation Thermal Protection Systems Program, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Prof. Maddalena is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, He served as Chair of the AIAA's Hypersonic Technologies and Aerospace Planes (HyTASP) Technical Committee from 2017 to 2019.


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