After four tries the Air Force X-51A Waverider test craft finally succeeded in achieving sustained, scramjet-powered, air-breathing hypersonic flight above Mach 5 in its final test flight on May 1.


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After four tries the Air Force X-51A Waverider test craft finally succeeded in achieving sustained, scramjet-powered, air-breathing hypersonic flight above Mach 5 in its final test flight on May 1.

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4 comments

  • From the article, it appears the test program did what test programs are supposed to do: identify problems and fix them. The fact that there was a different failure each time suggests that the basic concept and machine are sound, as the fixes amounted to tweaks of the original design. If the Air Force achieved five minutes of sustained hypersonic flight, that’s a landmark achievement. The rest, as they say, is just engineering.

  • Kelly Starks

    Very very cool.
    ;)

  • You are absolutely correct. I didn’t meant to suggest that the previous failures should somehow reflect badly on the engineering. These are test flights, so failures are simply part of the test.

  • Chris Kirkendall

    I assume this is mostly under development as an unmanned weapons system of some sort, but hasn’t there been talk of scramjets being used for human flights of some type (either civilian or military) ? I seem to remember something about that…

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