Friday, August 17, 2012

X-51 WaveRider Hypersonic Craft Lost During Test (Video)

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X-51A Waverider

By Alan Boyle 8-15-12

     The U.S. Air Force says its most ambitious test of its X-51 WaveRider hypersonic aircraft ended in failure less than a minute after launch on Tuesday, due to a flaw in one of the craft's control fins. The X-51 broke apart after it was dropped from a B-52 bomber, with pieces falling into the Pacific Ocean, a spokesman for the project told me today. If the test had proceeded as planned, the Boeing-built X-51 would have shot through the sky for a five-minute flight at a speed of up to 3,600 mph (5,800 kilometers per hour), or six times the speed of sound. Instead, the Air Force is going back to the drawing board. Hypersonic scramjet propulsion has been widely touted as eventually opening up the way for flights between London and New York in less than an hour. But in reality, the first application is more likely to come in the form of super-fast cruise missiles. . . .


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