HAMPTON, Virginia – Vehicles have been flying at hypersonic speeds – speeds greater than Mach 5 – for nearly 70 years. Spacecraft – from lunar capsules to blunt-shaped, unmanned probes – defined the early decades of hypersonics, but today, slender, low-drag vehicles are becoming the focus of engineers. The changing shape of hypersonic flight and its applications will be discussed Tuesday, Sept. 11, at NASA’s Langley Research Center and again at the Virginia Air and Space Center, both in Hampton, Virginia.

Mark Lewis, director of the Washington-based Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI) at the Institute for Defense Analyses, will give a lecture, ”Hypersonic Flight: Challenges, Successes and Opportunities,” at 2 p.m. in Langley’s Pearl Young Theater as part of the center’s Colloquium Series lecture. He will also give the talk at 7:30 p.m. at the Virginia Air and Space Center as part of the Sigma Series of lectures.

The Sigma Series talk is free and open to the public, while the lecture at Langley is for center employees and the news media. Media wishing to attend the Langley lecture should contact Eric Gillard at 757-864-7423 or eric.s.gillard@nasa.gov by noon EST Monday, Sept. 10, for credentials and entry to Langley.

During the talk, Lewis will review some of the technical challenges associated with long-duration hypersonic flight. Recent programs and developments will be discussed, with an eye toward how they brought researchers closer to practical hypersonic flight. Uses of hypersonic vehicles for both military and civilian missions will also be discussed, along with ideas for future research and development investments. Finally, efforts in the United States will be compared to hypersonics work underway in other countries.

Before his current role with STPI, Lewis was the longest-serving U.S. Air Force chief scientist in history (2004-08) and a faculty member at the University of Maryland for 24 years. He has authored more than 300 technical publications.

NASA Langley’s Colloquium and Sigma Series Lectures provide monthly talks and demonstrations related to science and technology. The lectures are intended to stimulate the creative processes of Langley employees and enhance the quality of life at Langley by providing more opportunities for learning. For more information about NASA Langley’s Colloquium and Sigma Series Lectures, visit: