Flying at hypersonic speed could revolutionize transportation, but there are incredible engineering and logistical challenges we need to get through first. So, how close are we to hypersonic travel?
Hypersonic speed greatly exceeds supersonic speed by Mach 5 and above. And supersonic speed is when you’re traveling faster than the speed of sound.
Traveling at the hypersonic speed seems crazy but it has been done multiple times in the past. For instance, In the 1960s NASA did achieve manned hypersonic travel through actual propulsion with an x-15 jet setting a speed record (7,274 KM/HR) or (4,520 MPH).
But traveling at the hypersonic speed for a long duration has a problem, When you’re traveling below the speed of sound the temperature around the aircraft stay as close to the ambient temperature but once you break the sound barrier a shock wave is created and the gas molecules behind the shock wave become compressed this makes the air around the plane hot. Near hypersonic speeds, it’s so hot that it can damage the materials that make up the body of the airplane.
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