HOME > Space Technology News >

USAF X-51A Waverider Achieves Hypersonic Goal On Final Flight

USAF X-51A Waverider Achieves Hypersonic Goal On Final Flight

The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Boeing X-51A Waverider demonstrator successfully achieved sustained, scramjet-powered, air-breathing hypersonic flight above Mach 5 in its final test flight on May 1.

Although the Air Force is not yet commenting on details of the flight, the X-51A is thought to have experienced positive acceleration to speeds in excess of Mach 5 and run for the full duration of the planned powered phase of the test. Based on targets established for the previous test attempt, this could have been as long as 300 sec., followed by an unpowered gliding descent of around 500 sec. prior to impacting the sea in the Pacific Test range west of California. If these times and speeds are confirmed, they will represent new records for sustained, air-breathing hypersonic flight.

The X-51A is intended to prove the viability of a free-flying, scramjet-powered vehicle and is considered an essential building block toward the long-anticipated development of hypersonic weapons and other high-speed platforms. However, despite the partial success of the first flight, which reached Mach 4.88 under scramjet power in May 2010, that mission ended prematurely after a malfunction, as did the second flight in March 2011 and third in August 2012.

Coming in the wake of these disappointing prior tests, the success of the May 1 flight could therefore be pivotal in helping drive further research and development to meet the Air Force’s long-term goal of hypersonic capability. The test involved the last of the four vehicles to be built by Boeing and configured with a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne SJX61 dual-mode ramjet/scramjet engine, and incorporated improvements and lessons learned from the three former flights.

These included better sealing between interfaces in the engine flow-path that are thought to have suffered “burn-through” on the first flight, allowing hot gases to penetrate the vehicle’s interior and prematurely ending the flight. Additionally, it incorporated hardware and software changes to counter issues that brought the second flight to a premature end after only 9.5 sec. of powered flight at around Mach 5. On this flight, the vehicle experienced an inlet un-start during the switch to hydrocarbon fuel, effectively blocking flow through the engine and shutting it down. Finally, the mission also included changes to the hypersonic cruiser’s control fins, one of which failed on the third mission, causing it to go out of control only 16 sec. into the test while still under boost.

For the final test, as with previous missions, the X-51A, attached to a modified Atacms missile booster, was launched from a B-52H mother ship over the Pacific. The stack separated from the B-52 and the booster fired as planned before the Atacms burned out and detached, and the scramjet ignited.

Source: By Guy Norris, AWIN First News - 2 May 2013

Photo: The U.S. Air Force X-51A Waverider Fighter Aircraft (Photo by USAF)



American Air Force News
African Air Force News
Asian Air Force News
European Air Force News
Middle Eastern AF News
Ocean Air Force News

• Pentagon Awards Multimillion Contract to Boost Military Satellite Communication

The US Department of Defense said that the United States has awarded LinQuest Corporation a more than $32-million contract for systems engineering and integration support services ...>>

• Is NASA on the Verge of Announcing They’ve Found Aliens?

A video posted online by an entity claiming affiliation with the amorphous hacktivist collective Anonymous claims the US’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration is on the ve...>>

• US Preps for Limitless War With Proposed New ‘Space Corps’

Lawmakers in Washington are seeking to create a brand-new military branch – the first since the establishment of the US Air Force in 1947 – to make sure the country can wage war in...>>

• How the US is gearing up as fear of a space war mounts

Air Force creates a new position for a three-star general that will serve as a space czar advising the Air Force secretary and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

• Airbus: Successfully launched Sentinel-2B to complete Europe´s colour vision mission of Earth

Multispectral instruments provide full picture of our planet´s land masses in unique image quality. Laser-based data transmission via new SpaceDataHighway...>>

• Fourth AEHF Protected Communications Satellite Begins Integration Months Ahead of Schedule

The fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite produced by Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] is taking shape after early deliveries of its payload and propulsion core. AEH...>>

• Russia Set to Launch 4 GLONASS Satellites This Year

Russia plans to launch for more satellites for the GLONASS navigation system by the end of this year, the Aerospace Defense Forces head said on Saturday....>>


       info@xairforces.net Webmaster: REFLX DESIGN - © 2011 xairforces / Aviation Society,