This One IS Faster Than A Speeding Bullet | Aero-News Network
Aero-News Network
RSS icon RSS feed
podcast icon MP3 podcast
Subscribe Aero-News e-mail Newsletter Subscribe

** Airborne 07.28.14/Oshkosh Day 1! ** HD iPad-Friendly Version--Airborne 07.28.14/Oshkosh Day 1 **
** Airborne 07.25.14--CLICK HERE! ** HD iPad-Friendly Version--Airborne 07.25.14 **

Fri, May 28, 2010

This One IS Faster Than A Speeding Bullet

X-51 Waverider Makes Historic Hypersonic Flight

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 air breathing scramjet engine accelerated the vehicle to Mach 5. 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.

"We ... have accomplished most of our test points on the X-51A's very first hypersonic mission," said Charlie Brink, a X-51A program manager with the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. "We equate this leap in engine technology as equivalent to the post-World War II jump from propeller-driven aircraft to jet engines."

The X-51 launched at about 1000 PDT from Edwards AFB, carried under the left wing of an Air Force Flight Test Center B-52 Stratofortress. Then, flying at 50,000 feet over the Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range, it was released. Four seconds later an Army Tactical Missile solid rocket booster accelerated the X-51 to about Mach 4.8 mach before it and a connecting interstage were jettisoned.  The launch and separation were normal, Mr. Brink said.

Four X-51A cruisers have been built for the Air Force and the (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) by industry partners Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and Boeing. Air Force officials intend to fly the three remaining X-51A flight test vehicles this fall, Mr. Brink said. Air Force officials currently plan to fly each on virtually identical flight profiles, building knowledge from each successive flight.

Hypersonic flight, normally defined as beginning at Mach 5, five times speed of sound, presents unique technical challenges with heat and pressure, which make conventional turbine engines impractical. Program officials said producing thrust with a scramjet has been compared to lighting a match in a hurricane and keeping it burning.

"This first flight was the culmination of a six-year effort by a small, but very talented AFRL, DARPA and industry development team," Mr. Brink said. "Now we will go back and really scrutinize our data. No test is perfect, and I'm sure we will find anomalies that we will need to address before the next flight. But anyone will tell you that we learn just as much, if not more, when we encounter a glitch."

Mr. Brink noted while development of the X-51A's engine and the test program are complex, controlling costs has been a key objective. The team has incorporated or adapted existing proven technologies and elected from the outset not to build recovery systems in the flight test vehicles, in an effort to control costs and focus funding on the vehicle's fuel-cooled scramjet engine, which was developed by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.

Mr. Brink said he believes the X-51A program will provide knowledge required to develop the game changing technologies needed for future access to space and hypersonic weapon applications.

FMI: www.af.mil

Advertisement

More News

EAA AirVenture 2014 Welcomes The Boldest Human Space Mission Yet

Events To Highlight Industry Collaboration For Reaching The Planet Mars Leaders from the aerospace community held a press conference at EAA AirVenture on Monday to get the word out>[...]

Aspen Avionics, True Innovators, Present Oshkosh 2014 Special Event Coverage!

OSH2014 Sponsor: Aspen Avionics Aspen Avionics specializes in bringing the most advanced technology and capability into general aviation cockpits. Our products increase situational>[...]

Futuristic OSH2014 Sponsor: 'Beyond The Blue' - The Inside Story Of The XPRIZE

Meet Jim Campbell, TODAY/07.28, At EAA Wearhouse, Author's Corner, At 1500 And Get Your Signed Copy of Beyond The Blue!!! To Aviation Journalist and experienced Test Pilot, Jim Cam>[...]

Ready For Service... ConciAir Helps Present OSH2014!

ConciAir Is Here To Return Our Industry To Service! The name ConciAir is a play on the word "concierge", and our goal is to be able to accomplish any task placed before us in a tim>[...]

OSH2014 Sponsor: Eclipse Aerospace -- In Full Production!

The Eclipse 550: Economical. Efficient. Incredible. The Eclipse 550 not only has the lowest acquisition cost of any twin-engine jet on the planet, it also has the lowest operating >[...]

blog comments powered by Disqus



Advertisement

Advertisement

Podcasts

Advertisement

© 2007 - 2014 Web Development & Design by Pauli Systems, LC