posted on May, 6 2010 @ 12:10 PM
In the last week of May, thousands of square miles of airspace above the Pacific Ocean will be cleared to make way for a skinny, shark-nosed
aircraft called the X-51.
The 4-metre-long prototype will drop from beneath the wing of a bomber and attempt to become the first scramjet to punch through the atmosphere at
hypersonic speeds for minutes, not seconds.
Like an airliner's jet engines, supersonic combustion ramjets – or scramjets – work by compressing air enough to ignite fuel which drives air out
of the back of the engine to provide thrust. It is designed to work at hypersonic speeds – above about 5 times the speed of sound.
A handful of experimental scramjets have flown successfully, reaching speeds as high as Mach 10, but not for long. "No one has successfully flown a
vehicle of this nature for more than a few seconds," says Joe Vogel, X-51 programme manager at Boeing. "Our goal is about 300 seconds of powered
The project is a collaboration between several US military agencies and private firms like Boeing that have ideas about how to solve the problems with
heat and manoeuvrability that have limited previous scramjet flights.
Continued story at link
Now that's fast! Simply amazing, if all goes as planned of course.