U.S. Military Tests Hypersonic Waverider Aircraft over Pacific

Tuesday, 14 Aug 2012 10:53 PM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink
The U.S. military conducted an unmanned test flight on Tuesday of its hypersonic Waverider aircraft, designed to move at six times the speed of sound using technology that bridges the gap between planes and rocketships, a military official said.

A B-52 bomber launched the remotely monitored, nearly wingless experimental aircraft, officially known as the X-51A, between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. (1700 and 1800 GMT), John Haire, a spokesman for the 412th test wing at Edwards Air Force Base in California, said in a statement. Results of the brief test flight will be released on Wednesday, he said.

The plan had been to conduct the test flight over the Pacific Ocean after a staging at Edwards, said Deborah VanNierop, a spokeswoman for Boeing Co, which was involved in constructing the craft, said in a statement.

The Waverider is designed to reach speeds of Mach 6 or above, fast enough to zoom from New York to London in less than an hour. But rather than commercial air travel, the military has its eye on a more readily achievable application - using it to develop high-speed cruise missiles.

The X-51A was launched off the coast of California near Naval Air Station Point Mugu, which is northwest of Los Angeles, Haire said. It flew north over the Pacific through a range that is designed for test flights.

"The X-51 is not retrievable, in other words once you fly it, it's going to end up in the ocean," Haire said.

The aircraft is known as the Waverider because it stays airborne, in part, with lift generated by the shock waves of its own flight.

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne designed the X-51A's "scramject" engine, which uses the forward motion of the craft to compress air for fuel combustion, according to a description of the project from the military.

After being dropped from the B-52, a solid-rocket booster is used in the initial phase of the plane's flight to bring it up to speeds that can allow its scramjet engine to take over, by inhaling air through the craft's forward momentum.

In 2004, NASA reached a speed of Mach 9.6, or nearly 7,000 miles per hour (11,265 kph), with a jet-powered aircraft. But that vehicle, known as X-43, only flew for a few seconds and its copper-based engine was not designed to survive the flight.

Engineers have hoped to see the hypersonic X-51A travel for five minutes of powered flight. For protection from extreme heat, it uses insulation tiles, similar to those on the NASA space shuttle orbiters, according to a 2011 military description of the project.

Hypersonic flight is normally defined as beginning at Mach 5, which is five times the speed of sound.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Microsoft Plans to Launch Smartwatch in Weeks: Forbes

Sunday, 19 Oct 2014 19:00 PM

Microsoft Corp. is preparing to launch a smartwatch within the next few weeks that will passively track a user's heart r . . .

Facebook Unfriends Federal Drug Agency

Saturday, 18 Oct 2014 13:13 PM

Facebook wants assurances from the Drug Enforcement Administration that it's not operating any more fake profile pages a . . .

New Apple iPads Sport Modest Upgrades, Fall Short on 'Wow' Factor

Friday, 17 Oct 2014 08:31 AM

Apple Inc.'s faster, slimmer iPads come with modest improvements, such as a fingerprint sensor, but some analysts say it . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved