X-51A Waverider Completes Testing; Achieves Longest Air-Breathing Hypersonic Flight
May 6, 2013 12:00 PM
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It also achieved Mach 5.1 at 60,000 feet
The X-51A Waverider completed the final flight of its test program last week, which proved to be the longest air-breathing hypersonic flight ever.
is an unmanned scramjet demonstration aircraft for hypersonic flight testing. Boeing developed the X-51 Waverider, and its first flight took place May 26, 2010. The idea of the program was to prove the viability of air-breathing, high-speed scramjet propulsion.
May 1 marked the fourth and final test flight of the X-51A Waverider. It took off from the Air Force Test Center at Edwards AFB, California a little after 10 a.m. It was coupled with the B-52H Stratofortress, and released at 50,000 feet.
The X-51A Waverider reached Mach 4.8 in 26 seconds while powered by a rocket booster, but after separation from the booster, it achieved Mach 5.1 at 60,000 feet.
Once the fuel supply was gone, the X-51A Waverider splashed into the Pacific Ocean. During its test flight, it traveled over 230 nautical miles in just over six minutes and collected 370 seconds of data.
"It was a full mission success," said Charlie Brink, X-51A program manager for the Air Force Research Laboratory Aerospace Systems Directorate. "I believe all we have learned from the X-51A Waverider will serve as the bedrock for future hypersonics research and ultimately the practical application of hypersonic flight."
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
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Random Idea for Re-Entry?
5/6/2013 4:21:34 PM
wouldn't it make more sense to use a scramjet for re-entry, where you already have the speed? Thrust vectored toward the ground to decelerate?
Just a thought :)
RE: Random Idea for Re-Entry?
5/6/2013 6:15:08 PM
Not sure why you'd want "Thrust vectored toward the ground".
For me, in unrealistic simulations involving scramjet/rocket hybrids (Orbitersim), the most useful scenario is in being able to adjust the orbital inclination in-atmosphere. Instead of needing to wait for the right time to launch/takeoff, you can simply fly to ideal place to intercept your desired orbit.
It's also useful in reverse, for landing wherever you want. Practically speaking, probably a waste to bring all that extra fuel.
RE: Random Idea for Re-Entry?
5/7/2013 9:08:02 AM
decelerating is not a problem - a brick in low earth orbit will decelerate quite nicely without any fancy engines.
in any event a scramjet wont work backwards - it accelerates a medium (air) in the direction of flow - there is no fan based compressor to make it work against the flow of air.
not hitting the ground is not the issue in re-entry - the issue is slowing down from mach 30 without exploding - there is no need to waste payload on thrust vectoring of scramjets (anyway i doubt you could thrust vector a scramjet without causing air flow to slow down and stall the engine)
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