Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. (Nasdaq:KTOS), a leading National Security Solutions provider, announced today the successful launch on May 1, 2012 of a hypersonic propulsion research mission from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii. The launch was conducted by the Rocket Support Services (RSS) business unit under contract to the Naval Surface Warfare Center Port Hueneme Division Detachment at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico (NSWC PHD Det WS), in support of the joint NASA, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), and Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation Program (HIFiRE). This launch, dubbed HIFiRE 2, was the fourth of a planned series of up to ten flights for the HIFiRE Program.
Hypersonic flight is flight through the atmosphere at speeds above Mach 5.5, or more than five times the speed of sound. This launch boosted the hydrocarbon-fueled research payload to a speed of Mach 6 at an altitude of approximately 70,000 feet, where the scramjet was ignited and accelerated the research payload to a speed of Mach 8 and an altitude of approximately 100,000 feet. NASA reported that this was the first time this had been accomplished with a hydrocarbon-fueled scramjet.
This flight was the second in a series of up to ten planned flight experiments under a joint research program between AFRL and the Australian DSTO. The HIFiRE Program is investigating the fundamental science of hypersonic technology and its potential for next generation aeronautical propulsion systems. Hypersonic flight has the potential to revolutionize global air travel, enabling travel between any two points on the globe in just a matter of a few hours.
This was also the first flight of a new launch vehicle configuration, which consisted of the Kratos Oriole rocket system boosted by two surplus Terrier rockets. It is expected that the higher performing Terrier-Terrier-Oriole configuration will see additional use for future hypersonic propulsion research missions and as a ballistic missile defense program target vehicle.
„We are extremely pleased to participate in helping to advance this new propulsion system technology,” said David Carter, President of the Kratos’ Defense & Rocket Support Services Division. Mr. Carter continued, „Kratos is proud to be on the forefront of helping develop this exciting new technology and to add the Terrier-Terrier-Oriole to the family of low-cost ballistic missile defense target vehicles.”