In the news...

May 3, 2013

X-51A Waverider achieves history in final flight

Tags:
Daryl Mayer
Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio

The X-51A Waverider prepares to launch its historic fourth and final flight. The cruiser achieved Mach 5.1 traveling 230 nautical miles in just over six minutes making this test the longest air-breathing hypersonic flight ever.

The final flight of the X-51A Waverider test program has accomplished a breakthrough in the development of flight reaching Mach 5.1 over the Pacific Ocean May 1 a little after 10 a.m. Pacific Time.

“It was a full mission success,” said Charlie Brink, X-51A program manager for the Air Force Research Laboratory Aerospace Systems Directorate.

The cruiser traveled over 230 nautical miles in just over six minutes over the Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range. It was the longest of the four X-51A test flights and the longest air-breathing hypersonic flight ever.

“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,” Brink said.

The X-51A took off from the Air Force Test Center at Edwards AFB, Calif., under the wing of a B-52H Stratofortress. It was released at approximately 50,000 feet 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 60,000 feet.

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. All told, 370 seconds of data was collected from the experiment.

“This success is the result of a lot of hard work by an incredible team. The contributions of Boeing, Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne, the 412th Test Wing at Edwards AFB, NASA Dryden and DARPA were all vital,” said Brink.

This was the last of four test vehicles originally conceived when the $300 million technology demonstration program began in 2004. The program objective was to prove the viability of air-breathing, high-speed scramjet propulsion.

The X-51A is unique primarily due to its use of a hydrocarbon fuel in its supersonic combustion ramjet, or Scramjet, engine. Other vehicles have achieved hypersonic – generally defined as speeds above Mach 5 – flight with the use of hydrogen fuel. Without any moving parts, hydrocarbon fuel is injected into the scramjet’s combustion chamber where it mixes with the air rushing through the chamber and is ignited in a process likened to lighting a match in a hurricane.

The use of logistically supportable hydrocarbon fuel is widely considered vital for the practical application of hypersonic flight.

As a technology demonstration program, there is no immediate successor to the X-51A program. However, the Air Force will continue hypersonic research and the successes of the X-51A will pay dividends to the High Speed Strike Weapon program currently in its early formation phase with AFRL.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines March 27, 2015

News General Dynamics withdraws as T-100 prime contractor General Dynamics Information Systems and Technology has withdrawn itself as the prime contractor on the T-100, the offering for the T-X trainer replacement program based on the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 design.   Business SpaceX’s fight with U.S. Air Force called a clash of perceptions Billionaire Elon Musk’s...
 
 

News Briefs March 27, 2015

Contractor extradited from Iraq pleads guilty in bribes case A man extradited from Iraq in a military contract bribery case has pleaded guilty to three charges in an agreement with federal prosecutors. U.S. District Judge Thomas Rose has scheduled sentencing for July 1 for Metin Atilan. His attorney, Nick Gounaris, says the two sides agreed...
 
 

Ninth Boeing GPS IIF reaches orbit, sends first signals

Boeing Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF satellites are steadily replenishing the orbiting constellation, continuing to improve reliability and accuracy for users around the world. The ninth GPS IIF reached orbit about three hours, 20 minutes after launching today aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., and...
 

 

F-35 Lightning II costs drop, report shows

A recent account of F-35 Lightning II aircraft program costs shows decreases, the Air Force’s F-35 program executive officer told reporters in a media roundtable March 24, 2015. Lt. Gen. Christopher C. Bogdan, citing this year’s selected acquisition report on the aircraft, called the roundtable to clarify cost and performance facts. He also acknowledged the...
 
 
NG-growler2

Northrop Grumman delivers center/aft ‘shipset’ for first international EA-18G Growler

Northrop Grumman photograph Northrop Grumman mechanics perform final quality inspections on the center/aft fuselage shipset produced by the company for the first Australian EA-18G Growler. The subassembly will be delivered to B...
 
 
Navy photograph by Monica McCoy

Navy conducts production acceptance test of Tomahawk missile

Navy photograph by Monica McCoy Members of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division team at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head prepare a Tomahawk missile for a functional ground test at the Large Motor Test Fa...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>