Blackswift Will Be the First War Machine In Space

Development of the U.S.'s first hypersonic military space plane, the HTV-3X Blackswift, is zooming forward, with plans for Boeing and Lockheed to work together on the project. When it's ready to fly (possibly as soon as 2010), the Blackswift will give the U.S. the ability to send a missile to any spot on Earth within 60 minutes. Check out the unique propulsion system that will take Blackswift above Mach 6.The goal for Blackswift is to be able to take off from a conventional runway, hit Mach 6 and possibly leave the atmosphere, accomplish its mission, then come back down and land on its own. It's also part of DARPA's Prompt Global Strike initiative ("If your missile isn't there in 60 minutes or less, it's free!"). The Blackswift propulsion system is a hybrid that mixes a fairly conventional turbojet for low-altitude, low speed flight with a ram/scramjet for hypersonic speeds. Above Mach 4, the ramjet takes over, slamming air through the jet at supersonic speeds without the use of a compressor or fan blade. If everything goes well, Blackswift could provide a basic platform for the development of further military space vehicles. Which is simultaneously really neat and pretty terrifying. Image by: Wired. Boeing Joins Lockheed on Blackswift. [] Blackswift Swoops in for $750 million. [Wired]


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