Minimum drag shapes of given length and base area are investigated for hypersonic flow using both Newtonian impact theory and free molecular flow theory. The drag of Newton's minimum drag body, which has previously been evaluated by numerical means, is derived as an analytic expression. The analytical results are applicable to a range of local pressure laws allowing minimum drag shapes obtained using impact theory to be directly compared with low density flow equivalents using free molecular flow. The low density shapes are found to have larger blunt regions at the nose and significantly larger drag coefficients. For free molecular flow the drag varies with the surface reflection characteristics. As the fraction of diffuse reflection at the surface increases, the drag increases and the sensitivity of the drag to changes in the minimum drag shape is reduced.
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Last amended: Dec 13.