This paper summarizes and discusses some critical aspects of flying hypersonically. The first is the L/D (lift over drag) ratio determining thrust and that in turn depends on the slenderness Küchemann’s τ parameter. This second parameter is found to depend on the relative importance of wave versus friction drag. Ultimately, all engineering drag is argued to depend on vorticity formed at the expense of the vehicle kinetic energy, thus requiring work by thrust. Different mixing strategies are discussed and shown to depend also on mechanisms forming vorticity when the regime is compressible. Supersonic combustion is briefly analyzed and found, at sufficiently high combustor Mach, to take place locally at constant volume, unlike conventional Brayton cycles.
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