The focus of this paper is a specific class of hypersonic inlet, namely, shape transitioning inlets. The history and development of this inlet class is reviewed also the motivation for further development of shape transitioning inlets is looked into. In particular a design method created by Michael Smart for producing inlets for integration with any general vehicle shape is investigated. The integration of the engine with the airframe is critical for the generation of thrust.
The report first looked into the optimum geometries for a modular inlet design on a conical vehicle. The tool found that with the increase of modules in the design, the reduction of total wetted area in the inlet. Also changing the length by altering the lip angle produces a better compression fields’ kinetic efficiency, with the longer inlets which can be related to the inlets kinetic efficiency.
The second part of the report looked into other possible inlet designs that could incorporate this design/method to possibly increase the vehicles efficiency. The vehicles selected for future study were the X-51a Waverider and the Falcon SLV.
The design tool used in this report however is limited in its ability to select the optimum inlets. The geometric properties are available, but not the flow properties. To gain a real understanding on which properties are optimum for the performance of the inlet, a full CFD analysis must be made, which is not in the scope of this paper.