The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up | Manage  Green editions icon Green editions

Calendar


HeraldNet Headlines
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.
Published: Friday, May 3, 2013, 7:38 p.m.

Boeing X-51A exceeds Mach 5 in Air Force test

  • The X-51A Waverider, carried under the wing of a B-52H Stratofortress bomber, prepares to launch its fourth and final flight over the Pacific Ocean on...

    U.S. Air Force / Associated Press

    The X-51A Waverider, carried under the wing of a B-52H Stratofortress bomber, prepares to launch its fourth and final flight over the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday.

LOS ANGELES -- An experimental, unmanned aircraft developed for the U.S. Air Force went hypersonic during a test off the Southern California coast, traveling at more than 3,000 mph, the Air Force said Friday.
The X-51A WaveRider flew for more than three minutes under power from its exotic scramjet engine and hit a speed of Mach 5.1, or more than five times the speed of sound.
The test on Wednesday marked the fourth and final flight of an X-51A by the Air Force, which has spent $300 million studying scramjet technology that it hopes can be used to deliver strikes around the globe within minutes.
The previous three flights ended in failure or didn't reach the intended speed.
Though the WaveRider was designed to reach Mach 6, or six times the speed of sound, program officials were satisfied with its performance in the latest test.
"It was a full mission success," program manager Charlie Brink of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base said in a statement.
The sleek, missile-shaped WaveRider was released from a B-52 bomber 50,000 feet above the Pacific and was initially accelerated by a rocket before the scramjet kicked in.
It reached Mach 4.8 in less than half a minute powered by a solid rocket booster. After separating from the booster, the scramjet engine was ignited, accelerating the aircraft to Mach 5.1 at 60,000 feet.
The flight ended with a planned plunge into the ocean.
The WaveRider traveled more than 230 miles in six minutes, making it the longest hypersonic flight of its kind. Engineers gathered data before it splashed down.
Darryl Davis, president of Boeing Phantom Works, which built the WaveRider, called the test "a historic achievement that has been years in the making."
"This test proves the technology has matured to the point that it opens the door to practical applications," Davis said in a statement.
While the Air Force did not have immediate plans for a successor to the X-51A, it said it will continue hypersonic flight research.
Story tags » Military aviationAir Force

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.

loading...