the end of this month, the U.S. Air Force will begin a series
of hypersonic tests
that will send a scramjet into the atmosphere for about five minutes,
at nearly five times the speed of sound. A scramjet is a supersonic
combustion ramjet, while a ramjet is a jet engine using the engine's
forward motion to compress air. If all goes as planned,
this will be the first time that an aircraft will have flown at such
speeds for more than a few seconds of time.In previous
attempts, the NASA X-43 was powered-up for just 10 seconds of
flight. The X-43 was tested four times in 2004 and was
hydrogen-powered.This time around, the U.S. Air Force will be
testing the X-51 Waverunner, which runs on compressed air that
ignites fuel by combustion.
The X-51 is designed to be dropped from beneath a B-52 bomber.A
rocket booster will ignite and accelerate the Waverunner. It
will then run its course -- from Mach 1 to Mach 6 -- under its own
power, at which time the nose of the X-51 is expected to reach
at least 1,480 degrees F.The aircraft fuel will then be piped
through tubes around the engine surface and will help warm the fuel
to the temperature needed to ignite it as well as draw off heat to
keep the engine from melting. According to Popular
the X-51 Waverunner is a global strike missile that is part of the
Prompt Global Strike research project being developed by Boeing and
the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory and Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency. The Waverunner is said to be a warhead
in the making, which will be filled with thousands of rods 12 times
as destructive as a .50-caliber bullet, targeted to shower a
designated area.It is being developed for precision, speed,
and range and has been designed to strike any place on the planet in
an estimated 60 minutes.The long-term goal is to design
airplanes and missiles that would reach Mach 25. The U.S. Air
Force plans to conduct up to four tests of the Waverunner this year.
quote: It is being developed for precision, speed, and range and has been designed to strike any place on the planet in an estimated 60 minutes.
quote: filled with thousands of rods 12 times as destructive as a .50-caliber bullet
quote: they would go through 300 feet of solid steal.
quote: I can't remember article, but it was said that these rods would hit the earth so hard they would go through 300 feet of solid steal.
quote: thousands of rods
quote: To be honest, with such an expensive delivery system, I was expecting a much more destructive type of payload than this kinda crap.
quote: Footfall was referencing Pournelle's "Thor" KE-based bombardment system.
quote: The aircraft fuel will then be piped through tubes around the engine surface and global warming will then help warm the fuel to the temperature needed to ignite it