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Air Force Experiment on Hypersonic Boundary Layer Flight to Launch March 21

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The U.S. Air Force is launching a flight experiment into space on Monday evening to study viscous drag and heating on hypersonic vehicles flying in the atmospheric boundary layer.

The two-stage suborbital rocket for the Boundary Layer Transition and Turbulence II experiment will take off at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, the Air Force Research Laboratory said Tuesday.

BOLT II will provide AFRL researchers with data on turbulent flow that heats up a vehicle’s surface during hypersonic flight, accomplishing the mission objectives failed by the previous BOLT I flight.

According to Sarah Popkin, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research’s program officer for high-speed aerodynamics, launching a tool into space is necessary because measuring boundary layer transition and turbulence is impossible on the ground.

“[Being] able to understand and predict the turbulence associated with the heating will help us design better hypersonic vehicles,” continued Popkin.

AFRL worked with the Department of Defense, Texas A&M University, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, CUBRC and Australian Defence Science and Technology Group for BOLT II.

Federal and industry officials will talk more about partnerships between public and private organizations in developing weapons moving beyond the speed of sound at ExecutiveBiz’s virtual Emerging Technologies: Hypersonics Forum on April 19.

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