Bolt research effort cultivates collaboration, hypersonic workforce

Sat, 20 Nov 2021 23:52:39 GMT
Space Daily

Wright-Patterson AFB OH (SPX) Nov 18, 2021 A team of scientists at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics...

A team of scientists at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, supported by the Air Force Research Laboratory's Air Force Office of Scientific Research, currently leads a collaborative research and experimentation effort that could aid development of hypersonic systems.

Through several basic research programs managed by AFOSR, APL has successfully developed a testing device called Boundary Layer Transition, or BOLT, which will provide much needed data to improve hypersonics.

There's a Future in Hypersonics In addition, this program is simultaneously enhancing the STEM pathway by using the BOLT project to train students and future hypersonic scientists.

University students in graduate programs were involved in flight test and beyond, said Dr. Brad Wheaton, BOLT principal investigator and chief scientist in the force protection sector at APL. "Those students [we]re not just in a lab studying phenomenology," Wheaton said.

Dr. Sarah Popkin, program officer for high-speed aerodynamics in AFOSR and whose purview includes the BOLT project, highlighted another academic science team involved with BOLT. The Hypersonic Flight in the Turbulent Stratosphere team, or HYFLITS, provided stratospheric weather data at the BOLT flight test.

The University of Colorado at Boulder leads HYFLITS in collaboration with University of Minnesota and Embry-Riddle University as part of an OSD Multidisciplinary Research Program of the University Initiative highly competitive grant, "Integrated Measurement and Modeling Characterization of Stratospheric Turbulence." The AFOSR High-Speed Aerodynamics research area has managed this grant since 2017.

BOLT also leveraged contributions from AFRL's Aerospace Systems Directorate and international partners: the Swedish Space Corporation; Germany's national center for aerospace, energy and transportation research; and Australia's Defence Science and Technology Group providing the flight computers.

"While BOLT wasn't designing a particular vehicle or certain response, it's dedicated to understanding the physics of boundary layer transition so that we can develop tools that will predict it better," Wheaton said.

While BOLT was preceded by an earlier boundary layer transition research program called HiFIRE, another program, BOLT II, succeeds BOLT. The research behind BOLT II steers more toward studying turbulence as it relates to boundary layer transition but uses BOLT's mechanical design and team members, such as some of the same graduate students.

The BOLT II launch is projected to take place in March or April 2022 at the NASA Wallops Space Station on Wallops Island, Virginia.