The Pegasus Hypersonic experiment consisted of a smooth, information-gathering "glove" installed on the first-stage wing of a Pegasus Space Launch Vehicle, which reached a speed of Mach 8 and an altitude of 200,000 feet. The goal of the experiment was to discover when the airflow over the wing became turbulent and why. Pegasus (PHYSX) Home Page
While at Dryden, Pegasus has been used to launch numerous satellites and research projects, and was modified for the Hyper-X and the PHYSX projects. The PHYSX experiment consisted of a non-ablating, smooth glove installed on the first-stage delta wing of the Pegasus. The glove provided data at speeds of up to Mach 8 and at altitudes approaching 200,000 feet.
The PHYSX flight experiment focused on determining where boundary-layer transition occurred. Data from this flight-research effort included temperature, heat transfer and pressure measurements and trajectory reconstruction. Hypersonic flight-research programs are an approach to validate design methods for hypersonic vehicles.
In preparation for some of the major hypersonic flight research programs, such as Hyper-X, NASA has capitalized on flight-research opportunities using the Pegasus launch vehicle to conduct aerodynamic experiments. By conducting more extensive experiments in a piggyback fashion on the Pegasus vehicle, some critical and secondary design and development issues at hypersonic speeds can be addressed. Another purpose of the project includes the development of hypersonic flight instrumentation and test techniques.
NASA's B-52 launch vehicle is used to get the Pegasus airborne. The Pegasus Space Launch Vehicle has a 400-1000 lb. payload capacity in a 61 cubic foot payload space at the front of the vehicle, capable of placing a payload into a low-earth orbit. Including payload, the vehicle has a gross weight of 41,000 lbs. It is 50 feet long and 50 inches in diameter.