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DOD Announces Hypersonic Research Consortium

Oct. 27, 2020 (EIRNS)—The Department of Defense announced yesterday that it will be awarding a $20 million/year five-year contract to Texas A&M University’s Engineering Experiment Station to establish and manage a University Consortium for Applied Hypersonics (UCAH). According to a press release issued by the Pentagon, the UCAH will coordinate and advance research on hypersonic technologies and accelerate transfer of those technologies to industry. The UCAH will be led by professor of aerospace engineering at Texas A&M University Dr. Rodney Bowersox, described as one of the nation’s foremost hypersonic researchers, and will be governed by a board made up of experts from numerous universities, MIT, the CalTech and the Georgia Institute of Technology among them.

Given that this project is entirely devoted to the needs of the military, and much of the work is highly classified, there’s a certain amount of paranoia built into it as well. The Houston Chronicle reports that the program will be limited to U.S. citizens and those who are participating through international partners, which include Australia, Britain and Canada. “Texas A&M understood the security aspect and are actually really proactive about who should not have access, don’t get that access. They look for those counterintelligence threats, so we’re not training Chinese scientists who are going to help their program,” said Gillian Bussey, director of the DOD’s joint hypersonics transitions.

Dr. Mark Lewis, Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering said he hopes to deliver real-world hypersonic capabilities within a “handful” of years, but did not divulge information on any immediate projects or a timeline in case competitors are monitoring him, he said. “We do feel we’re in a little bit of a race right now,” Lewis said. “The whole theme of this is moving as quickly as we possibly can.”

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