Press Esc to close
Thursday 27 November 2014
News updated at 8:37 AM IST
Weather
Max: 0°C
Min : 0°C
In Bengaluru
Sunny day

US aircraft flies at over five times speed of sound

Washington, May 4, 2013 (IANS)

The US Air Force announced its X-51A Waverider aircraft has achieved the longest hypersonic flight in history, flying for three and a half minutes on scramjet power at more than five times the speed of sound.

The final flight of the unmanned aircraft built by Boeing reached Mach 5.1 over the Pacific Ocean May 1. It travelled over 230 nautical miles in just over six minutes, reported Xinhua.

"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."


With the test, the US Air Force has successfully completed a $300 million, nearly decade-long hypersonic test program that reportedly can be used to deliver strikes around the globe within minutes.

The X-51A took off from the Air Force Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California, under the wing of a B-52H Stratofortress. It was released at approximately 15,000 meters and accelerated to Mach 4.8 in about 26 seconds powered by a solid rocket booster.

After separating from the booster, the cruiser's scramjet engine then lit and accelerated to Mach 5.1 at 18,000 meters.

After exhausting its 240-second fuel supply, the vehicle continued to send back telemetry data until it splashed down into the ocean and was destroyed as designed.

"This demonstration of a practical hypersonic scramjet engine is a historic achievement that has been years in the making," said Darryl Davis, president of Boeing Phantom Works, in a statement.

"This test proves the technology has matured to the point that it opens the door to practical applications, such as advanced defence systems and more cost-effective access to space," said Davis.

This was the last of four test flights for X-51A. The first occurred in May 2010. It was hailed as a success, as the vehicle flew for nearly 200 seconds and reached
approximately Mach 5. The next two flights, in June 2011 and August 2012, both failed.

The Air Force said that X-51A is a technology demonstration program and was not designed to be a prototype for weapon system. It was designed to pave the way to future hypersonic weapons, hypersonic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and future access to space.

Since scramjets are able to burn atmospheric oxygen, they don't need to carry large fuel tanks containing oxidizer like conventional rockets, and are being explored as a way to more efficiently launch payloads into orbit.

Go to Top

Photo Gallery
It is business as usual in Leopold Cafe on the eve of the anniversary ...

It is business as usual in Leopold Cafe on the eve of the anniversary ...

England's captain Alastair Cook (R) talks with his teammate Ravi Bopara...

England's captain Alastair Cook (R) talks with his teammate Ravi Bopara...

Models pose with a car during the inauguration of the Lamborghini showroom...

Models pose with a car during the inauguration of the Lamborghini showroom...

Women from the Delhi police force, undergo martial arts training...

Women from the Delhi police force, undergo martial arts training...

Indian tennis player Sania Mirza blows whistle to joins campaign...

Indian tennis player Sania Mirza blows whistle to joins campaign...

Children rights activist Baburaj, Good Sheperd High School headmistress ...

Children rights activist Baburaj, Good Sheperd High School headmistress ...

A Sun Bird sits on a branch of Jacaranda flower tree...

A Sun Bird sits on a branch of Jacaranda flower tree...

BJP MP'S meeting in Parliament house...

BJP MP'S meeting in Parliament house...

Bipasha Basu and Milind Soman at Pinkathon announcement

Bipasha Basu and Milind Soman at Pinkathon announcement

Modi with BJP leaders at an election rally in Jharkhand

Modi with BJP leaders at an election rally in Jharkhand

Copyright 2014, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd., 75, M.G Road, Post Box 5331, Bengaluru - 560001
Tel: +91 (80) 25880000 Fax No. +91 (80) 25880523