Paul Czsyz on Hypersonic Aircraft and Fusion Drives

Professor Paul Czysz is the former Chief Scientist for the National Aerospace Plane Project, and currently holds the position of Professor Emeritus at Saint Louis University’s Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. Our interview focuses on his role at NASP, and how Aneutronic Nuclear Fusion Drives may serve as a next-generation solution leading to a new type of “highway to the stars”, through a combined scramjet/aneutronic fusion-rocket bimodal propulsion system.

The NASP project’s X-30 hypersonic aircraft configuration was basically a highly integrated engine. The shovel shaped forward fuselage generated a shock wave to compress air before it entered the engine. The aft fuselage formed an integrated nozzle to expand the exhaust. The engine in between was intended to be a supersonic combustion ramjet (scramjet) engine. The aerodynamic configuration was an example of a waverider. Most of the lift was generated by the fuselage through a phenomenon called compression lift. The “wings” were small fins that provided trim and control. This configuration would make for efficient high-speed flight, but would have made take-off and slow-speed flight difficult.

Since the closure of the NASP Project in 1993, Professor Czsyz has refined the X-30 design into an even more powerful concept by incorporating his vision for an aneutronic fusion drive to provide clean, powerful thrust to exceed even the Mach 14 limits of the hypersonic aircraft’s scramjet engine and provide a true high-speed spaceplane technology.

Hypertech LLC is the aerospace startup firm that Czsyz created to help him realize this vision of a practical hypersonic aircraft technology for rapid transit applications. In 2005, he joined forces with PlanetSpace, Inc to unveil a new concept for the “Silver Dart” – a Mach 22 hypersonic suborbital spaceplane.