The X-51A WaveRider team has won the 2014 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Foundation’s Award for Excellence. The team will receive the award on April 30 at the AIAA Spotlight Awards Gala at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, in Washington, D.C.
The team is being honored “for the demonstration of the feasibility of sustained air breathing hypersonic flight by achieving a 300 second flight at Mach 5.
The fourth X-51A WaveRider vehicle completed a 300 second test flight on May 1, 2013. During the flight, the vehicle sustained speeds of about Mach 5, setting a new record for duration of air-breathing, hypersonic flight. The X-51A project team is comprised of representatives from The Boeing Company, Aerojet Rocketdyne, and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, with support from the Air Force Flight Test Center, NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The vehicle’s success lays the groundwork for future advances in hypersonic flight, including high-speed aircraft and air-breathing propulsion systems for future space launchers.
“This is such a fitting tribute because the X-51A program was truly a milestone in atmospheric flight, establishing beyond any doubt that a vehicle can be propelled at sustained hypersonic speeds using an air-breathing engine powered by a relatively conventional fuel,” said Mark Lewis, AIAA Foundation chairman. “The success of the X-51A WaveRider program is more than just an outstanding technical accomplishment; it is the culmination of nearly five decades of research in the field, and a testament to what a team of aerospace professionals can achieve when they are united in the pursuit of a barrier-shattering advance in flight.”
“The X-51A WaveRider represents an important contribution towards furthering sustained hypersonic flight,” said Basil Hassan, AIAA vice president of technical activities. “This award reminds us what can be accomplished and inspires us to continue to dare to push the envelope of flight to greater heights and faster speeds. On behalf of AIAA’s technical activities community, I extend our congratulations to the X-51A WaveRider team for its accomplishments.”
The AIAA Foundation Award for Excellence recognizes deserving organizations or individuals for extraordinary accomplishments in the promotion of aerospace. Past recipients include the 787 Dreamliner; the Mars Science Laboratory; the National Reconnaissance Office, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, The Challenger Center for Space Science Education, Sen. John Glenn, and the Joint Strike Fighter Program.