Thursday, May 27, 2010

Air Force 'Hypersonic' Jet Sets New Speed Records

Via -

An experimental aircraft has set a record for hypersonic flight.

The Air Force says the X-51A Waverider flew at six times the speed of sound for more than 3 minutes yesterday morning after being released from a B-52 off the southern California coast.

Its scramjet engine accelerated the vehicle to Mach 6, and it flew autonomously for 200 seconds before losing acceleration. At that point the test was terminated.

The Air Force says the previous record for a hypersonic scramjet burn was 12 seconds.

Charlie Brink, an X-51A program manager with the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, says researchers equate the leap in engine technology "as equivalent to the post-World War II jump from propeller-driven aircraft to jet engines."


Boeing X-51

X-51 Scramjet Engine Demonstrator - WaveRider (SED-WR)
An X-51A Waverider flight-test vehicle successfully made the longest supersonic combustion ramjet-powered hypersonic flight May 26 off the southern California Pacific coast. The more than 200 second burn by the X-51's Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne-built air breathing scramjet engine accelerated the vehicle to Mach 6. The previous longest scramjet burn in a flight test was 12 seconds in a NASA X-43. Air Force officials called the test, the first of four planned, an unqualified success. The flight is considered the first use of a practical hydrocarbon fueled scramjet in flight.

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