Print 17 comment(s) - last by fic2.. on Aug 15 at 3:55 PM

Scram before I murderize you!

Scientist and researchers have been putting significant effort into future aircraft capable traveling at hypersonic speeds. One such aircraft that's been testing is the X-51A WaveRider, which is designed to fly at 3,600 mph. At that speed, a passenger aircraft would be able to travel from Los Angeles to New York in only 46 minutes.
Engineers at Edwards Air Force Base in California were putting the finishing touches on the WaveRider yesterday and the test flight is expected to be conducted over the Pacific today. The aircraft will be attached to the bottom of a B-52 bomber's wing. The WaveRider will be carried to an altitude of 50,000 feet over the Pacific near Point Mugu. The aircraft will then drop from the wing and begin its high-speed test flight.
The X-51A WaveRider will reach Mach 6 and will attempt to maintain that speed for 5 minutes. Engineers on the project say that this test flight is important for all types of aviation including military and commercial. The technology could also be adapted to superfast missiles and spacecraft.
"Attaining sustained hypersonic flight is like going from propeller-driven aircraft to jet aircraft," said Robert Mercier, deputy for technology in the high-speed systems division at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Ohio.
"Since the Wright brothers, we have examined how to make aircraft better and faster. Hypersonic flight is one of those areas that is a potential frontier for aeronautics. I believe we're standing in the door waiting to go into that arena."
NASA and the Pentagon are currently financing three different centers around the country to study hypersonic flight. The programs are being administered by DARPA, and the agency calls hypersonic flight "the new stealth." The Pentagon believes that the best way to hit targets around the globe in an hour or less is with a hypersonic missile.

WaveRider had a successful maiden test flight in May 2010 when it was able to travel 3,500 mph for 143 seconds before crashing into the ocean as planned. However, DARPA has had significant issues with its even faster hypersonic aircraft, the Mach 20 HTV-2.

Source: Seattle Times

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Sonic booms
By HrilL on 8/14/2012 1:25:06 PM , Rating: 2
Our local radio said we could hear sonic booms. Hopefully I get to since I never have. Wonder if we'll be able to see any jet wash as well...

RE: Sonic booms
By rickon66 on 8/14/2012 1:40:28 PM , Rating: 2
Time to call Chuck Yeager out of retirement!! I am old enough to remember in the mid to late 50's when they tested supersonic aircraft over the area where we lived. The sonic booms were routine and resulted in many broken windows and cracked plaster. F101 Voodoo .

RE: Sonic booms
By Reclaimer77 on 8/14/2012 2:04:55 PM , Rating: 2
"Put the spurs to her, Chuck!"

RE: Sonic booms
By Bad-Karma on 8/14/2012 11:37:10 PM , Rating: 2
You got any Beemans?

RE: Sonic booms
By Jeffk464 on 8/14/2012 3:14:36 PM , Rating: 3
Call me old, I heard sonic booms from the space shuttle landing on its maiden flight.

RE: Sonic booms
By PitViper007 on 8/14/2012 4:18:18 PM , Rating: 2
I got to hear the sonic booms from several space shuttles while I was stationed at Edwards AFB in California. It's interesting in that it's not a single, but a double sonic boom.

RE: Sonic booms
By Jeffk464 on 8/14/2012 5:30:23 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, that's where I saw it. Pretty cool experience.

Hoping for onboard video
By RufusM on 8/14/2012 9:35:33 AM , Rating: 2
The rocket + scramjet in this thing would make for one wild ride.

RE: Hoping for onboard video
By inperfectdarkness on 8/14/2012 10:48:22 AM , Rating: 2
no rocket, just scramjet. we don't need to test rocket propulsion...we did that with the x15. this airframe is designed to test some of the problems of hypersonic flight, such as supersonic air interacting with the engine internals, the high temperatures generated by friction, etc.

one essential benefit of developing this technology is that it eliminates the need for ballistic missiles, as it would yield a new breed of cruise missiles that can strike a target just as fast--and without alarming every neighboring country in our target area.

RE: Hoping for onboard video
By 91TTZ on 8/14/2012 10:54:08 AM , Rating: 3
No rocket, just scramjet. we don't need to test rocket propulsion...we did that with the x15.

"The X-51 is initially propelled by an MGM-140 ATACMS solid rocket booster to approximately Mach 4.5, before it is jettisoned"

RE: Hoping for onboard video
By Samus on 8/14/2012 1:37:01 PM , Rating: 2
91TTZ is right. A ramjet cannot create propulstion from a stand still (at any atmospheric pressure) and requires a great deal of forward motion to work, generally Mach 3 is a safe starting point.

Even the shuttle craft (B2) won't get it beyond 600mph, so the X-51 is unique in that is has a hybrid rocket/scramjet package. I think the wild ride comment is accurate. Being jettisoned from a B2 up to mach 4.5 only to have yet another stage fire is probably similar to what astronauts experience during multi-stage rocket launches.

RE: Hoping for onboard video
By Jeffk464 on 8/14/2012 3:11:51 PM , Rating: 2
Don't see this having commercial airline applications at all. The direction is towards ever increasing fuel efficiency not speed, in fact I heard that airlines even reduced their cruising speeds to save fuel.

RE: Hoping for onboard video
By teldar on 8/14/2012 8:45:03 PM , Rating: 2
I believe ramjets are phenomenally fuel efficient. This would help any of the airlines, if it becomes a possibility. Wouldn't be surprised to see that it would have to be on a flying wing though, instead of fixed tube and wing style aircraft.

RE: Hoping for onboard video
By jeffkro on 8/15/2012 9:04:16 AM , Rating: 1
I have a hard time believing you get better mileage maybe if you go high enough.

x15's 50th anniversary???
By croc on 8/15/2012 8:54:23 AM , Rating: 2
That would be right about now, wouldn't it? Maiden voyage, dropped from a .... B-52.

By fic2 on 8/15/2012 3:55:19 PM , Rating: 2
No follow-up on this?
I just read an article that said the test failed because of a control fin - scramjet never ignited.

The Pentagon
By SuckRaven on 8/14/12, Rating: -1
"Vista runs on Atom ... It's just no one uses it". -- Intel CEO Paul Otellini
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