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NASA Tests Hypersonic Blackswift 487

Posted by timothy
from the for-a-romantic-honeymoon-cruise dept.
dijkstra writes "Blackswift was previously rumored to be a super secret hypersonic scramjet-based aircraft co-named HTV-3X, essentially a 21st century version of the SR-71. Today NASA has unveiled the real Blackswift (video link), which uses pulse detonation engines (PDEs). A PDE is essentially a modern version of the old V-1 buzz bomb engine. This engine requires significantly fewer moving parts and achieves much higher efficiency than a turbofan, and is technically able to go hypersonic without any kind of 'dual-stage' engine."
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NASA Tests Hypersonic Blackswift

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  • I feel dirty (Score:5, Informative)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Friday June 27, 2008 @01:46AM (#23963523) Homepage Journal

    Please warn us when linking to Fox News. Jesus those people are dumb.

    • by vectorian798 (792613) on Friday June 27, 2008 @01:52AM (#23963563)
      I logged in for the first time in forever to post exactly that lol...
    • Re:I feel dirty (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LoudMusic (199347) * on Friday June 27, 2008 @01:54AM (#23963581)

      Please warn us when linking to Fox News. Jesus those people are dumb.

      It's not that THEY'RE dumb (which they are so very dumb) but rather they feel the need to dumb down everything for their audience.

      I want to punch that Fox man in the face. And I feel so bad for Ken Christiansen (sp?). It seemed apparent he was not prepared to deal with such a moron.

      • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Friday June 27, 2008 @01:59AM (#23963613) Homepage Journal

        No, they're dumb. Fox News was unable to find people who could act dumb, so now they just hire people who really, (really, really) are dumb.

        • by gadget junkie (618542) <gbponz@libero.it> on Friday June 27, 2008 @02:33AM (#23963857) Journal

          No, they're dumb. Fox News was unable to find people who could act dumb, so now they just hire people who really, (really, really) are dumb.



          From my extensive corporate background, I can tell you that if somebody that has been hired acts dumb, he's usually dumber than he seems; all a matter of cost efficiency, a smart guy acting dumb would cost between twice and three times as much, and you'd risk him saying clever things once in a while anyway.

          • by MrKaos (858439) on Friday June 27, 2008 @07:03AM (#23965367) Journal

            a smart guy acting dumb would cost between twice and three times as much, and you'd risk him saying clever things once in a while anyway.

            W.

      • by ToraX242 (455331) on Friday June 27, 2008 @02:18AM (#23963737)

        NO, I don't want to punch him in the face. I want to watch it again and again. My favorite part is:
        "How does a human beein stand that at six times the speed of sound?"
        I believe the right answer to that question would've been: "Well it is bearable but you need to speak veeeery slooooowly or people sitting next to you can not understand what you say."

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by gadget junkie (618542)

          NO, I don't want to punch him in the face. I want to watch it again and again. My favorite part is: "How does a human beein stand that at six times the speed of sound?" I believe the right answer to that question would've been: "Well it is bearable but you need to speak veeeery slooooowly or people sitting next to you can not understand what you say."

          you forgot to say that if you are facing backwards, it's the other way around!! [wikipedia.org]

        • by amRadioHed (463061) on Friday June 27, 2008 @03:49AM (#23964255)

          My favorite part was "Check that out! You see that go off the runway? It was gone."

          Yes, what an amazing new technology that allows planes to get off the runway. Computer animated planes, no less!

      • Re:I feel dirty (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MrNaz (730548) on Friday June 27, 2008 @02:28AM (#23963823) Homepage

        The alarming thing is not that Fox News readers do not reflect upon the standard of intelligence at Fox News Studios, rather, it reflects upon the intelligence of the American Public in general. After all, this is a free market, and Fox News is only delivering the quality that people are demanding in that free market.

        *That* is what frightens me.

        • Uncanny valley (Score:4, Insightful)

          by hey! (33014) on Friday June 27, 2008 @07:44AM (#23965733) Homepage Journal

          It isn't just that they act dumb. It might be just me, but those Fox newsreaders give me the creeps. It's their eyes. Their body language and facial expression are so animated, but their eyes are so lifeless.

          I may be politically biased against the network, but there is something in the flawless but soulless choreography of Fox news that stinks of evil. The effect reminds me of C.S. Lewis' novel That Hideous Strength, in which a government think tank called NICE manipulates its members using their ambitions and insecurities. As their ambition drives them toward the coveted membership in the inner circle, their fear drives them further into themselves. By the time they make it into the inner circle, there's nothing outwardly left of their humanity to enjoy it. They can pass superficial inspection, but the closer you look, the more obviously robotic they are.

          What makes That Hideous Strength such an effective story of the supernatural is that the mechanisms of damnation are so psychologically plausible. Anybody with sufficient money could actually put the NICE methods for turning people into passive tools to the test.

          I don't know about the people on the screen, but Fox definitely plays this game with its viewers. It appeals to greed and fear.

        • Re:I feel dirty (Score:4, Informative)

          by Awptimus Prime (695459) on Friday June 27, 2008 @07:51AM (#23965809)

          The alarming thing is not that Fox News readers do not reflect upon the standard of intelligence at Fox News Studios, rather, it reflects upon the intelligence of the American Public in general. After all, this is a free market, and Fox News is only delivering the quality that people are demanding in that free market.

          *That* is what frightens me.

          Since you aren't from America, you might have a skewed view on how the cable networks operate here. Just about any cable channel can survive due to the channels being sold in packages, thus everyone gets a nickle, even if nobody is watching. Also, with such a diverse number of backgrounds and sheer magnitude of population, just about any network can get enough viewers to look popular.

          What I find scary, other countries broadcast this same crap network to their citizens. If the average American hates Fox (just look at the thread or ask the next American you meet), why would anyone from another country even consider tuning in?

          To clarify for those who don't know: Fox News is cable-only. It's not a broadcast channel, nor could it survive as one.

        • Re:I feel dirty (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ruiner13 (527499) on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:55AM (#23966597) Homepage
          George Carlin said "think of how dumb the average person is. Now remember that half of all people are dumber than that."

          apologies if I've butchered it a bit, but damn if it isn't spot on.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Jeremi (14640)

            George Carlin said "think of how dumb the average person is. Now remember that half of all people are dumber than that."


            Bill Gates, George Carlin, and four homeless people walk into a bar. Bill Gates announces that the average net worth of the people in the room is $9 billion. George Carlin starts asking the homeless people for money, since he thinks that at least two of them must be worth more than that amount.

    • Re:I feel dirty (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday June 27, 2008 @02:08AM (#23963679) Journal

      http://news.google.com/news?q=blackswift [google.com]

      I'm somewhat confused as to what has been "unveiled".
      Everything I've read so far says that this plane is still in the "sketches and mock-ups" [wired.com] stage.

      Though I guess someone found the time to do a slick render.
      Maybe the PR push is an attempt to keep Congress from cutting their funding.

    • Re:I feel dirty (Score:5, Informative)

      by JustKidding (591117) on Friday June 27, 2008 @05:19AM (#23964731)
      Not living in the USA, I never understood why you people were complaining about Fox news.

      I understand now...

      I wonder how these people survive. Are they actually smart enough to breathe on their own?
    • Re:I feel dirty (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dreamchaser (49529) on Friday June 27, 2008 @06:08AM (#23964993) Homepage Journal

      Bill Hemmer is probably one of the dumbest they've got too. Not all of them are quite so bad, but he is really a bubble headed empty suited talking head.

      I watch Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, etc. I also watch BBC news and read from various outlets. NONE of them are without a bias, but generally if you use diverse sources you can get a better picture.

      If I happen to have Fox on when Hemmer starts yapping, I change the channel. He is one of the most annoying talking heads on ANY network.

  • by jasontheking (124650) on Friday June 27, 2008 @01:50AM (#23963553)

    I'd prefer to stay stupid. Thanks.

  • Air Force != NASA (Score:4, Informative)

    by rsidd (6328) on Friday June 27, 2008 @01:53AM (#23963575)

    Just because Fox interviews a NASA analyst doesn't mean NASA developed the thing. The video clearly says it's the air force that's developing this.

    • Re:Air Force != NASA (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27, 2008 @02:18AM (#23963743)
      Actually it's neither NASA, nor the Air Force developing this. It's a DARPA program and the Skunk Works is the primary contractor. The contract doesn't officially begin until September of this year. The footage shown in the video is also not real--artists conceptions at best. Furthermore, the vehicle doesn't employ pulsed detonation engines for hypersonic flight. The so-called NASA analyst in the video just saw a request for money in the 2009 budget, stole some artist conception used for market assist, and tried to put the pieces together--poorly I might add.
  • Awful (Score:4, Informative)

    by Robert1 (513674) on Friday June 27, 2008 @01:54AM (#23963579) Homepage

    Holy shit that was a pain to watch. Billy is a fucking retard.

    "Can you explain in english not in science-talk."

    Oh, you mean english to people who aren't slack-jawed idiots. The way he says it makes it sound like he's proud that he's so fucking stupid.

    What a fucking jackass. How can someone that stupid be put out there as a news-person? On national television?

    I'm hoping for the one day when the scientist being interviewed tells the guy to get a fucking education and then explains what's going on in adequate detail with plenty of scientific concepts.

    • Re:Awful (Score:5, Informative)

      by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday June 27, 2008 @02:42AM (#23963915) Journal

      What a fucking jackass. How can someone that stupid be put out there as a news-person? On national television?

      I'm guessing you don't watch morning TV?
      It's okay, I can't stand it either.

      Fox's "America's Newsroom" shares a timeslot with shows like Good Morning America (ABC), Today (NBC), and The Early Show (CBS).

      They're very info-lite because the demographic is mostly women age 25-54
      (loaded towards the 54 yr old end)

      IMO, morning and daytime television is a wasteland.
      Fark is both more entertaining and more informative than TV.

    • Re:Awful (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Friday June 27, 2008 @03:05AM (#23964043) Homepage Journal
      That's just the thing. They ARE proud of their stupidity. They are of and cater to that segment of society that distrusts education, knowledge and science.

      They are part of and help feed the "scientists don't know everything," "They're elitists," "I didn't come from no damn monkey," and "God wouldn't let the earth get too hot" crowd.

      They are and speak to those who are afraid of knowledge, especially if it contradicts their own assumptions, thus wounding their little egos.

      These are the "don't look it up in a book, look it up in your gut" people that Colbert satirizes.

      • Re:Awful (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27, 2008 @04:47AM (#23964533)
        Islam was the pinnacle of science and technology (9-14th centuries) until the Ash'ari movement became popular.

        The Asharites questioned the value of evidence and scientific method, because they believed that the deep properties of nature were (and should stay) beyond the realm of human comprehension. Very much like your "God fearing" Midwestern Christians.

        Sadly, i fear that the irony of the situation would be lost on these people, even if it were explained in very simple concepts.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Fred_A (10934)

          The Asharites questioned the value of evidence and scientific method, because they believed that the deep properties of nature were (and should stay) beyond the realm of human comprehension. Very much like your "God fearing" Midwestern Christians.

          It is often said that history doesn't repeat itself but I could well see a rerun of that episode one of these days.
          It probably was one of the major catastrophes of the human history. Without it the Mediterranean civilisations could have grown together instead of half of them collapsing back into ignorance.

          And yet few people seem to even know about this historical tidbit. :(

        • Too simplistic (Score:3, Informative)

          by kbahey (102895)

          This view is overly simplistic.

          The Ashari school of thought came in early, and gained a lot of support perhaps from the 10th century onwards.

          At the time, the other schools of thoughts, which are not "sects", within the majority Sunni Islam were as follows:

          a) the Mu'tazili, which were supposed to a rationalist theological branch. They had followers among the elite, but very little among the majority. They managed to be the "state religion" under Al-Ma'moun. This caused severe oppression of the traditionalist

      • Re:Awful (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday June 27, 2008 @05:30AM (#23964799) Journal

        That's just the thing. They ARE proud of their stupidity. They are of and cater to that segment of society that distrusts education, knowledge and science.

        You mean women aged 25-54?
        Because that's the main demographic of morning shows like America's Newsroom.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breakfast_television [wikipedia.org]

        Breakfast television programs normally feature regular news briefs and information reports on business and the stock market, and weather and commuter travel (traffic in North American usage)--particularly in the 'early half', when the bulk of the workforce demographic is still home. Later in the program, programming will shift to more homemaker-oriented entertainment programming, to reflect a dominantly female demographic.

        Personally, I'd say it's somewhat insulting how the programming turns lightweight and airy once the menfolk have gone off to work, but that seems to be what the morning viewers are interested in, even accounting for their political/religious/philosophical bent.

        So while it must feel nice to rant about Fox and the "segment of society that distrusts education, knowledge and science" which watches them, what you just saw is pretty much par for the course during the 9:00-10:59 AM time slot.

        • Re:Awful (Score:4, Informative)

          by Eponymous Bastard (1143615) on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:44AM (#23966449)

          Personally, I'd say it's somewhat insulting how the programming turns lightweight and airy once the menfolk have gone off to work, but that seems to be what the morning viewers are interested in, even accounting for their political/religious/philosophical bent.

          Notice that it's not just when the "menfolk" go to work. It's when working people go to work. The only ones left at home are pre-preschoolers and career housewives.

          There are plenty of women who would be insulted by this talking down, but a large percentage of them go off to work too. Some are left at home, women who choose to take care of their family instead of a career, but I bet the morning crowd is dominated by non-college educated, artsy, low-ambition types.

          So it's not necessarily sexism going on but a reflection of the demographics of the society.

    • It's Murdoch (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lysse (516445) on Friday June 27, 2008 @05:22AM (#23964749)

      Everything that Rupert Murdoch does is avowedly anti-intellectual. Over there it's FOX News and the New York Post; over here it's the Sun, the News of the World, and the current Labour government.

  • fewer uses of less (Score:3, Informative)

    by planet_guru (716691) <slashdot@@@spiration...co...uk> on Friday June 27, 2008 @01:56AM (#23963591) Homepage
    Sorry, but 'fewer' moving parts? :)
  • by TheMiddleRoad (1153113) on Friday June 27, 2008 @02:01AM (#23963633)
    Jesus built this hot rod.
  • by Profane MuthaFucka (574406) <busheatskok@gmail.com> on Friday June 27, 2008 @02:17AM (#23963731) Homepage Journal

    The AIR FORCE is conStructing this HYPER sonic jet exploder thingy, with the help of JESUS, in order to fly at 10 times the speed of sound over countries where POOR people who HATE us live, in order to deliver with very high efficiency SWEETS and other confections which they need to live. They'll drop right out of the bom...CANDY bar bay. The Pentagon calls this the SNICKER candy bomb. At least they were snickering when they told the story to Fox News. Praise the lord

    "Why yes, I HAVE been watching Fox news lately. How can you tell?"

  • by jonwil (467024) on Friday June 27, 2008 @02:26AM (#23963809)

    Could this be the Aurora, the "triangular shaped" airplane with the "donuts on a rope" contrail that various people have reported seeing over the years? (I saw something on discovery channel about it)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by geek2k5 (882748)

      It might be. I seem to recall the aerospace media calling it Aurora. There were a number of sonic booms over the LA area that were attributed to it that weren't traced to known military planes. And I seem to recall the Brits took a picture of a pulse trail of something attributed to Aurora

      It could easily be that Blackswift is the military name for Aurora. It would be kind of like the stealth 'fighter' from a number of years back. I believe it flew for about seven or eight years before the Air Force adm

  • now, don't get me wrong. this is a cool bird. but I wouldn't say it was cooler than the SR-71.

    I've found a few better articles and videos, here [wired.com], here [youtube.com] , here [youtube.com] & here [youtube.com].

    It's probably designed to be the replacement for the "blackstar [aviationweek.com]" program, which doesn't exist, but is hands-down the very coolest thing out there, the only thing cooler would be a functioning Orion [wikipedia.org] spacecraft.

    But this looks like it might have the capability of taking the place of the blackstar "mothership [astronautix.com]", although I bet with less performance & payload; as this isn't designed to be a Mach 3+ cruise nuclear bomber [vectorsite.net], that's understandable. but those cold-war birds have got to be tired by now, and looking forward to retirement. i think one would look great in my driveway as a static display.

    I do wonder what they are going to use to replace the orbital component, which was probably based on the X-20 [wikipedia.org]. Maybe a NASP [wikipedia.org]? The X-43 [wikipedia.org]?

  • gaaaaaaaaaahhh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27, 2008 @02:34AM (#23963861)

    "This engine requires significantly less moving parts"

    Fewer is for quantities you can count. Less is for quantities you can't count. So unless you're implying that NASA scientists took a V1 Buzz Bomb engine (whatever that is) and poured out a heterogeneous liquid stream of moving parts until only puddles remained inside, it's FEWER moving parts!

  • Build your own jet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by loic_2003 (707722) on Friday June 27, 2008 @03:16AM (#23964099) Homepage
    The V1 flying bomb used a pulse jet engine rather than a pulse detonation engine - the difference being that a PDE burns at a supersonic rate whereas a regular PJ wouldn't be able to get to those speeds.

    Pulse jets are surprisingly easy to build, and I'm going to flagrantly link to my own build log of my engine being built with videos of it running/imploding here. [frenchgeek.com]
    Videos are all here. [frenchgeek.com]

    Cheers.
  • by mrmeval (662166) <`mrmeval' `at' `gmail.com'> on Friday June 27, 2008 @04:10AM (#23964353) Journal

    Air Force Research Laboratory's Propulsion Directorate

    http://www.wpafb.af.mil/afrl/rz/ [af.mil]

    I thought I'd post a useful link rather than bashing some corporate spew machine.

  • by Lonewolf666 (259450) on Friday June 27, 2008 @04:31AM (#23964463)

    For me (German ISP/IP address) the link leads to random commercials. Each time I try it another one.

    Fuck Fox News, and thanks to the posters who provided alternative links about the project...

    • by tirerim (1108567)

      The news segment starts after the commercial, though I don't think it's really worth your time to watch it.

  • by jpellino (202698) on Friday June 27, 2008 @05:22AM (#23964753)
    pulse engines will rattle them loose fer sure.

  • What, you mean like in your car's engine?

    (yes, I know what a pulse jet is, I'm making fun of Fox News)

  • sekrit planes! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jollyreaper (513215) on Friday June 27, 2008 @06:26AM (#23965105)

    I really do wonder what they're dicking around with out there. The two bits of evidence I heard of supporting the idea of a fancy post-SR-71 wonderplane were the donuts-on-a-rope contrails (which the link says can be produced by conventional aircraft under the right conditions) and linear earthquakes picked up on seismographs that do not follow any existing fault line that seemingly originate in the atmosphere. I've seen that "fact" mentioned before but have no idea how accurate it is.

    http://tinwiki.org/wiki/Aurora#Contrail [tinwiki.org]

    I have no proof one way or the other, I just think it would be surprising for the government to retire something as valuable as the Blackbird without having an even better replacement in the works. Then again, using logic to explain government decisions is often a losing proposition.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by R2.0 (532027)

      "I have no proof one way or the other, I just think it would be surprising for the government to retire something as valuable as the Blackbird without having an even better replacement in the works. Then again, using logic to explain government decisions is often a losing proposition."

      The unofficial/official line was that the government DID have something better - satellites with resolution much better than previously available.

      That being said, I'm with you and think Aurora is real - hell, the SR-71 "didn't

  • by n9hmg (548792) <n9hmg@nOSpam.hotmail.com> on Friday June 27, 2008 @06:28AM (#23965121) Homepage
    At least this propulsion system has been flying since at least 2005 (I don't remember the season). It sort of sounds like a piston engine, but leaves a contrail of "puffs" and appears to be very fast.
    I heard what I thought was a strange-sounding small plane. Found the contrail, and the head growing far ahead of where the sound was coming from, and I couldn't see the contrail source. Maybe 20 seconds from hearing the sound from the north to seeing the head of the contrail disappear to the south. It was flying down the Front Range of the Rockies. I was just north of Gunbarrel, Colorado.

    I googled around and found conspiracy nut sites talking about "Aurora", which fit my observations well. Since then, I've just been waiting for it to finally be revealed. I guess the research has gone on far enough to start production.
  • by autophile (640621) on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:12AM (#23966051)
    The fuel has electrolytes. It's what planes crave.
  • by StCredZero (169093) on Friday June 27, 2008 @11:05AM (#23968561)

    If we have the technology to build a plane that can fly at Mach 10, then we can build Zubrin's Hyersonic Skyhook [harvard.edu] without nanotube cables or any kind of unobtanium. This would give us Space Elevator priced access to space!

    Basically, you build a beanstalk that doesn't go all the way to geosynch, and doesn't go all the way to the ground. It's a lot less massive and doesn't require the same stupendous tensile strength as a Space Elevator. A Mach 10 hypersonic plane could deliver cargoes to the bottom end, perhaps with the help of a small booster rocket on the cargo pod. After the cargo is attached, you winch it up and use ion engines or interaction with the earth's magnetic field to accelerate the skyhook. (Which would be cheaper, since ion engines have huge delta-V, and magnetic interaction requires power and no fuel.)

    Another Paper [64.233.167.104]

With all the fancy scientists in the world, why can't they just once build a nuclear balm?

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