Prototype hypersonic vehicles and hypervelocity projectiles face severe system and subsystem design challenges in the face of high heat flux generated by the friction of flying through the atmosphere at Mach 5 (+3,800 mph) or higher speeds. Requiring their maneuverability increases the challenges for both design and test. Designing hypersonic interceptors to counter hypersonic prompt strike weapon threats is in its early days, and whether they should use an air-breathing stage to sustain hypersonic speeds during intercept is hotly debated. Field testing such systems is vital to collect data, but the prototypes are expensive and flight tests may be destructive. Draper can use model-based engineering (MBE) as a cost-effective way to evaluate design concepts before selecting one(s) to develop and prototype.
Draper is applying its expertise in MBE trade space analysis to explore performance envelopes of hypersonic threat defense systems, as well as to evaluate designs of subsystems, including their technology and material needs. Projected performance of resulting system designs can be assessed in terms of operational area, defended areas, probability of hit and more in integrated high-fidelity modeling and simulation. Configurable models provide the ability to change design characteristics to identify, quantify and analyze their ripple effects on the rest of the system. MBE also supports modifying intercept trajectories and guidance algorithms in efficient cycles of design, test, redesign and retest.
In applying MBE to hypersonic interceptor design assessment, including threat vehicle detection and tracking, Draper leverages its previous work experience with precision guidance for projectiles and re-entry of spacecraft. For these programs, Draper has provided guidance, navigation and control research and development, as well as supporting test and evaluation.
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