HEDGE Hypersonic ReEntry Deployable Glider Experiment Critical Design; Determining the Effect of Social Media on Manifesting Physical Action within the Hong Kong Freedom Movement

Case, Aidan, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Goyne, Chris, EN-Mech & Aero Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Francisco, Pedro Augusto, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

The United States and its near-peer and peer adversaries are currently in a “space-race” -
esque competition to invent (and improve on) hypersonic missile technology. Hypersonic
missiles are a serious national security concern for the United States as these missiles are much
more difficult to track and intercept when compared to conventional missile technology. As the
United States attempts to catch up to the hypersonic missile developed by the Chinese,
researchers are investing into new ways to test hypersonic technologies at low cost. This
capstone project is seeking to design and test a hypersonic glide vehicle which will undergo
reentry into the earth’s atmosphere. This vehicle will be designed by using CubeSat standards
and will be able to transmit temperature and pressure data for detailed analysis. The clients for
this project are potentially the DoD and the Department of the Navy. Given the groups that are
interested in this technology, it is incredibly important to discuss and consider the social
implications that come along with it. Regardless to say, this technology has pulled heavy interest
from defense contractors and institutions. Therefore, it is likely that data collected by this
technology will be used to develop hypersonic vehicles. The vehicles developed by the
contractors or institutions will, likely, carry warheads. Although the technology being developed
by this capstone group is not a warhead carrying missile itself, the results obtained here will be
used in the future to aid in the development of said missiles. This problem can be looked at
through the lens of techno-politics. Although this technology is not inherently political, it will
have political repercussions. Similarly to how the proliferation of nuclear warheads changed
global politics, the threat of hypersonic missile technology has shifted the global power balance.
Akin to this shift in power, social media has again and again been used to disrupt authoritarian
regimes in regions such as Hong Kong. Although anecdotal evidence of social medias ability to
manifest physical action within a movement run rampant, little data driven evidence exists to
support this idea. Therefore, this STS paper will be conducting a statistical analysis via data
aggregation from Google Trends and synthesizing the protest timeline of the 2019 Hong Kong
protests in order to determine if social media is effective in mustering physical action within a
totalitarian state. This paper expects social media to have been effective in manifesting physical
action in the form of protests during the 2019 Hong Kong riots. Both this capstone project and
STS research paper offer a deep dive into understanding how many technologies that may not
have been created with political intent have been repurposed in order to disrupt the balance of
power both regionally and globally.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Hypersonics, Social Media

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering
Technical Advisor: Christopher Goyne
STS Advisor: Pedro Augusto Francisco
Technical Team Members: Joseph Abbe, Dick Doyle, Samuel Kristy, Matthew Quiram, Hussain Asaad, Grant Duemmel, Joseph Lee, Kaiya Saunders, Danielle Ashbahian, Daniel Fisher, Aaron Liu, Jackson Stoner, Joseph Beasley, Avery Goldberg, Hong Ji Liu, Nicholas Storey, Zachary Carroll, Nicholas Haddad, Lauren Murphy, Lucas Talbert, Spencer Harris, Corin Myers, Thomas Yin, Andrew Culbertson, Sean Jones, Kevin Nguyen, Mateo Nguyen.

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