The second area of Earth-to-orbit transportation is the highly reusable systems being pursued in the Advanced Reusable Technologies (ART) project. ART intends to pursue advances in high strength, lightweight structures and cryogenic propellant tanks, durable thermal protection systems (TPS), automated checkout and health monitoring, and long-life propulsion components.
Currently ART is progressing toward demonstration of combined cycle propulsion. This propulsion system transitions from an air-augmented rocket to ramjet, scramjet, and finally back to all rocket operation to orbital velocity. Combined cycle propulsion holds the promise of increased vehicle robustness or increased payload mass fraction.
The ART project will demonstrate performance through all phases of flight operation between mach 0 and mach 8 for multiple concepts.
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