Skip to comments.US Air Force tests hypersonic cruise missile
Posted on 05/26/2010 6:02:05 PM PDT by ErnstStavroBlofeld
The US Air Force on Wednesday test launched a hypersonic cruise missile, with the vehicle accelerating to Mach 6 before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean, officials said.
The Air Force said the test flight of the X-15A Waverider lasted more than 200 seconds, the longest ever hypersonic flight powered by scramjet propulsion. The previous record was 12 seconds in a NASA X-43 vehicle.
"We are ecstatic to have accomplished most of our test points on the X-51A's very first hypersonic mission," Charlie Brink, program manager with the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
"We equate this leap in engine technology as equivalent to the post-World War Two jump from propeller-driven aircraft to jet engines," he said.
But about 200 seconds into the flight, "a vehicle anomaly occurred and the flight was terminated," the Air Force said in a statement.
"Engineers are busily examining the data to identify the cause of the problem," it said.
The Waverider was launched from Edwards Air Force Base in California, then carried under the wing of a B-52 aircraft before being released at an altitude of 50,000 feet off the Pacific coast.
A solid rocket booster then propelled the vehicle to about a speed of about Mach 4.8, before the X-51's special scramjet engine ignited.
The Waverider, built by Boeing and Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne, reached an altitude of 70,000 feet and a top speed of Mach 6, the Air Force said.
Hypersonic flight begins at Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound.
The X-51 fits in with US plans to hit distant targets with conventional weapons within an hour, dubbed "prompt global strike."
The Waverider, or an experimental hypersonic plane also under development, could substitute for a ballistic missile armed with a conventional warhead
(Excerpt) Read more at news.yahoo.com ...
The warhead is expected to be a maneuverable vehicle, weighing some 2 tonnes including the payload, and be able to deliver a unitary penetrator, numerous smart munitions or even UAVs.
Essentailly it crossed Ohio in about a minute and a half.
It was launched from Edwards AFB in California. The place where it was built was Wright Patterson AFB(which is a absolutely fantastic place)
I used Ohio simply because I know it is 220 miles across. And yes the AF museum is unbelievable.
The really cool part is that the displacement of the center piece can change. Moving air through this narrow area, creates severe turbulence - severe turbulence creates intense heat.
Squirt a wee bit of liquid Nitrogen into that hot air stream, and it immediately expands to 10,000x it’s intial volume - that’s thrust.
Consider, a conventional jet engine produces it’s thrust from air expanding 15-20%. The only ‘problem’ is that unless the scram jet is moving really fast - the LN2 will just dribble out the back end of the jet and puddle on the asphalt.
That would be the way i would want to travel though Ohio
The scramjet doesn't have to slow the air down, or at least not to subsonic speed.
Note also how quickly the fuel must be injected and burned. At Mach 5, approximately 5000 feet per second, the air goes through a 20-foot-long engine in .004 seconds.
People have been trying to get scramjets to work for over 50 years. While at Office of Scientific Research in the late 1960s I sponsored a history of scramjet research up to that time. I'm glad to see some results at last.
Beats the crap out of driving I70 all the way across. Personal record was 2 and half hours, but that’s a story fo another day.
Looks like it would make a hell of a Recon Aircraft.Nothing would touch it.
Imagine what would happen if they squirted a wee bit of liquid hydrogen into the hot air stream.
Is that a euphemism for "exploded?" :-)
Signal: You hold the record as the fastest man in the world. What's your military background, and what was the record you set?
Knight: I was a test pilot at Edwards (Air Force Base) for a good many years and flew a lot of airplanes. (I) ended up flying the X-15, which was a rocket-powered airplane, a research airplane. There (were) only three of them built. One of my projects on the X-15 was expanding the envelope out to mach 8, for the primary purpose of developing a little scramjet engine that we would carry on the bottom of the airplane — similar to what just happened.
In that process of building up to mach 8, I set a record every time I flew that airplane. The first one was (mach) 6.3, and then 6.7, and 4,520 mph. At that time they canceled the scramjet program, and therefore there was no reason to go faster, so we canceled the X-15 program.
Signal: What year was that?
Knight: 1967. That's 35 years ago. You know, it's unconscionable that a record stands for that long. it gives you an idea of how much (research and development) that we are not doing anymore.
Hydrogen is flammable, Nitrogen is not. If you have a non-flammable fuel, you have no need to fear extreme heat. Plus, Hydrogen is very chemically active, Nitrogen is practially inert.
Whoa. You may really be on to something here.