There’s an old saying that those who cannot do, teach.

Former Air Force Academy professor Lt. Col. Nick Hague blew that theory to shreds Thursday when a Russian rocket boosting him to the International Space Station failed in flight.

Hague and his Russian counterpart successfully aborted the flight and brought their capsule to a safe landing.

NASA sent out a note to family and friends after the pair were safely on the ground.

“I wanted to send a quick update on Nick and Alexey to let you know they are doing well following landing. They are safely in Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan en-route back to Baikonur,” the space agency said.

Hague, a 1998 Air Force Academy graduate, taught in the school’s space engineering program in 2006-09.

Hypersonic answer?

The engine that could power America’s military into the hypersonic age has passed its first tests, rocket builder Aerojet Rocketdyne said last week.

Called a “dual-mode ramjet/scramjet,” it combines the low-speed qualities of a traditional jet engine with the high-speed capabilities of a ramjet — which uses speed alone to compress fuel rather than a system of turbine fans.

The technology addresses a big hurdle for hypersonic flight — travel at more than five times the speed of sound. Jet engines used on America’s planes won’t do the job for those speeds, but the ram jets that power hypersonic vehicles are useless at low speeds.

Aerojet’s hybrid could be the solution.

“When combined with a gas turbine engine as part of a turbine-based combined cycle propulsion system, this engine may provide the capability to propel a vehicle from a standstill into the hypersonic flight regime of Mach 5 or higher and back again,” the firm said in an email to The Gazette.

Russia and China have embraced hypersonic aircraft as a key to future warfare. Vehicles moving that quickly are nearly impossible to shoot down and can hit enemies before they can prepare.

The rival moves have the attention of Defense Secretary James Mattis, who addressed hypersonic technology during a stop in Colorado Springs this year. “We need somebody looking at hypersonics, artificial intelligence, directed energy, big data, you know, all these things that will change the character of combat in the future,” Mattis told The Gazette.While hypersonic craft are important for military leaders, they have also got civilian attention. Boeing has looked at the technology for future airliners. A hypersonic craft could make it from New York to London in minutes in stead of hours. It would be like the Concorde, only fast.


Rocket-maker Blue Origin scored a big win last week when Air Force Space Command announced a contract to send military satellites to orbit atop the firm’s “New Glenn” rocket.

Blue Origin, a start-up backed by billionaire Jeff Bezos, officially moved into the big leagues alongside newcomer Space-X and old-school leaders United Launch Alliance and Northrop-Grumman.

the New Glenn is a three-stage rocket that pumps out more than 3 million pounds of thrust. That makes its capable of heavy lift to high orbits.

Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240 Twitter: @xroederx

Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240

Twitter: @xroederx

Senior Military Editor

Tom Roeder is the Gazette's senior military editor. In Colorado Springs since 2003, Tom covers seven military installations in Colorado, including five in the Pikes Peak region. His main job, though, is being dad to two great kids.

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