Some notes on Hypersonics
"I can't see turbojet -> scramjet being a particularly pleasant (or survivable) experience for a squidgy human. "
Acceleration is *not* velocity. Provided the environment system is up to the job (and that's a pretty *big* if) the crew won't have a problem.
Then there's the whole issue of materials science - throw away experiments (as impressive as this one is) are one thing, having a boat that can fly mach 5+, be refuelled and turn around for another sortie without bits (like engines, wings etc) falling off is another.
The friction on that thing must be crazy. I know it's not quite in the region of atmospheric re-entry, but it ain't *that* far off.
Actually it's *very* close to re-entry conditions in terms of heat input per unit area, *especially* in the intake area. Proposed solutions included ones proposes to cool the Shuttle wings on reentry.
I don't imagine ejection would be that healthy an option either!
As pointed out a self contained crew capsule would be the proffered option. BTW the F111 capsule had some "issues," concerning misfiring of the guillotine severing the control cables prior to separation. A number were lost over Vietnam before this little fault got found out.
Hope they (as in America) don't think that using it as a cruise/exocet type missile is a good idea tho. You can imagine the news story already - "an American missile today destroyed a terrorist training camp killing 80 combatants. On its path to its target its shockwave destroyed 14 schools and 3 market towns killing 1500 civilians. Officials said they were 'looking into the matter'"
Ballistic flight path. Likely to remain *very* high as long as possible. Inlet pressure is a multiple of surrounding atmospheric pressure. IIRC at M3 it is 37x surrounding air pressure, but at 60-80 000 (roughly SR 71 ceiling) it's roughly 1/16 sea level. Running full tilt at ground level would rupture it unless *ridiculously* strong.
Hypersonic cruise has *some* potential uses. Boosting to orbit (especially single stage) is *highly* speculative.
Mine would have a PMP loaded with "Facing The Heat Barrier" including the history of NASP and its, er, "creative" promoter Anthony DuPont.