NASA Goes Hypersonic: X-43A  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in

NASA's X-43A research vehicle screamed into the record books in November, demonstrating an air-breathing engine can fly at nearly 10 times the speed of sound. Preliminary data from the scramjet-powered research vehicle show its revolutionary engine worked successfully at approximately Mach 10, nearly 7000 mph, as it flew at an altitude of approximately 110,000 feet.

The flight took place in restricted airspace over the Pacific Ocean northwest of Los Angeles. The flight was the last and fastest of three unpiloted tests in NASA's Hyper-X Program. The program's purpose was to explore an alternative to rocket power for space access vehicles.

"This flight is a key milestone and a major step toward the future possibilities for producing boosters for sending large and critical payloads into space in a reliable, safe, inexpensive manner," said NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe. "These developments will also help us advance the Vision for Space Exploration, while helping to advance commercial aviation technology," Administrator O'Keefe said.

Nasa_x43a_CybersSystem.BlogSpot.com

Supersonic combustion ramjets (scramjets) promise more airplane-like operations for increased affordability, flexibility and safety in ultra high-speed flights within the atmosphere and for the first stage to Earth orbit. The scramjet advantage is once it accelerates to approximately Mach 4 by a conventional jet engine or booster rocket, it can fly at supersonic speeds, possibly as fast as Mach 15, without carrying heavy oxygen tanks, as rockets must.

The design of the engine, which has no moving parts, compresses the air passing through it, so it can ignite the fuel. Another advantage is scramjets can be throttled back and flown more like an airplane, unlike rockets, which tend to produce nearly or full thrust all the time.

The Hyper-X Program, managed by the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate in Washington is conducted jointly by NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va., and Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. (Source : with thanks)

This entry was posted on Jan 6, 2009 at 5:59 AM and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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