X-51 achieves goals at last

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posted on May, 2 2013 @ 09:17 PM
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The final flight of the X-51A Waverider appears to have finally achieved the goal of sustained air-breathing, scramjet powered flight above Mach 5. The Air Force has yet to comment on the flight, but it's believed that the aircraft achieved sustained hypersonic flight for as long as 5 minutes, before an unpowered glide for just over another 8 minutes into the Pacific.

The previous three flights all failed during the tests. This aircraft had changes made to it based on those failures, including better seals, and changes to the control surfaces.

The X-51 was released from a B-52H over the Pacific, attached to an Atacms booster, which fired upon launch, and accelerated the aircraft to speeds where the scramjet would operate before separating.


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.

Aviation Week
edit on 5/2/2013 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)




posted on May, 2 2013 @ 09:28 PM
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Being an aircraft mechanic myself---it would be so cool to be able to work on a project like this. I would imagine they are mostly contract developers and not actually active duty personnel working on it??

Eh, no matter---I can't lateral over to another service in this economy anyway haha!



posted on May, 2 2013 @ 09:33 PM
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That is cool news.

Thanks



posted on May, 2 2013 @ 10:38 PM
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So... what could be the exact purpose of this... "thing"?

I mean I can think of some, but is there anything that in the future could be applied for a civilian purpose?



posted on May, 2 2013 @ 10:53 PM
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reply to post by FraternitasSaturni
 


Oh absolutely. Right now hypersonic flight is....difficult to put it mildly. Even for a small unmanned aircraft. Eventually, if they can figure it out, we could see passenger aircraft capable of Mach 5 or higher. California to Japan in a matter of a few hours, instead of 10 or 12 that it takes now.

There are currently several programs trying for hypersonic flight. What's interesting is that one of them has discovered an "8 minute barrier". I believe they've had three flights to date, and all three have failed in the 8th minute of the flight.



posted on May, 2 2013 @ 10:57 PM
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reply to post by FraternitasSaturni
 


superfast fedex deliveries?



posted on May, 3 2013 @ 02:45 AM
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Nice find!! Have a star (can't give you a flag yet
)But if we're to believe all this speculation about the Aurora project then it's already possible to sustain flight at hypersonic speeds and this is just for show


I really don't know... My life would be simpler if I had super top secret experience
edit on 3-5-2013 by Florasaurus because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 3 2013 @ 02:54 AM
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the project needs "ancillary" upgrades to break the "8-minute" barrier; mutual full cooperation



posted on May, 3 2013 @ 04:23 AM
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Originally posted by Florasaurus
Nice find!! Have a star (can't give you a flag yet
)But if we're to believe all this speculation about the Aurora project then it's already possible to sustain flight at hypersonic speeds and this is just for show


I really don't know... My life would be simpler if I had super top secret experience
edit on 3-5-2013 by Florasaurus because: (no reason given)


I am familiar enough with the topic to comfortably say what we see publicly as the X-51 is bleeding edge. Now what will come from the engineering solutions and data collection is the real question.

The general consensus is that Aurora was a budget code for the B-2 when it was still a black project.

There are a couple of rumours but nothing substantial and I have been aware of the speculation since the 1980's. Something would have probably came out, although....

On a related note, ever hear of the Boeing X-20 Dyna-Soar?....



Another unconfirmed whisper in the same vein as Aurora...

edit on 3-5-2013 by Drunkenparrot because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 3 2013 @ 12:02 PM
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reply to post by Zaphod58
 


Why cant they just build the ZEHST for now? While still work on that beast? From a civilian perspective of course...

Ok hypersonic flight is great, but we cant even replace the concorde yet.



posted on May, 3 2013 @ 12:32 PM
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reply to post by Drunkenparrot
 


Oooh no, I haven't seen these yet... Definite procrastination material, thanks



posted on May, 3 2013 @ 01:45 PM
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reply to post by Florasaurus
 


Well, in one episode of Stargate SG:1 one of their scientists demonstrated some kind of directed energy weapon (and purposefully failed) in front of a bunch of civilian scientists.

There might be some credence to this type of "soft disclosure". Basically, you slowly introduce things that have already been developed in order not to shock people. Secrets can only be held for so long, it human nature to talk to someone.

I take it though that this "thing" that they got up/over mach 5 isn't very sexy looking!




posted on May, 4 2013 @ 12:40 AM
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Originally posted by MystikMushroom
reply to post by Florasaurus
 


Well, in one episode of Stargate SG:1 one of their scientists demonstrated some kind of directed energy weapon (and purposefully failed) in front of a bunch of civilian scientists.

There might be some credence to this type of "soft disclosure". Basically, you slowly introduce things that have already been developed in order not to shock people. Secrets can only be held for so long, it human nature to talk to someone.

I take it though that this "thing" that they got up/over mach 5 isn't very sexy looking!



You're correct in your assumptions, it's not exactly pretty and definitely looks more like ordinance than an aircraft, but then again this is still in it's testing phases.



Here's what wiki has to say about the project.

en.wikipedia.org...
edit on 4-5-2013 by Hijinx because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 4 2013 @ 12:45 AM
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reply to post by FraternitasSaturni
 


On a technical note, the reason Concorde failed was because it had to fly several hundred miles out to sea before it could go supersonic (there were issues such as operating cost, and profit involved too, but we're ignoring those to concentrate on the technical aspect). This meant that you still had to fly subsonic for a couple hours before you could go supersonic.

Supersonic flight over land causes problems (broken windows, things falling off shelves, cracked foundations....). NASA and others are working on a "quiet" supersonic aircraft that would allow them to fly supersonic over land, which means the entire flight (except take off and landing obviously), would be at supersonic speeds. There's no point in replacing Concorde until that happens, because the exact same problems would crop up now.



posted on May, 4 2013 @ 12:46 AM
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Embedded youtube vid of the x51.



posted on May, 4 2013 @ 01:21 AM
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Iterative projects like this that take place over many generations and versions before finding success - and even then are still very much test beds and proofs of concept in many ways; research mock ups if you will - are one of the reasons I am highly skeptical of there ever having been something like Aurora.

That said, there are still some very good witness accounts of "donuts on a rope" contrails, sonic booms, etc. My question - being a layman - is this. Could those sightings have simply been caused by a variety of older, failed iterations of scramjets or something like them which were tried, failed, and then scrapped? Could the results of such research be part of the "family tree" of platforms like the X-51? Or is it more likely from an engineering standpoint, given their age, that the sightings were misidentifications of more mundane aircraft?

Peace.



posted on May, 4 2013 @ 01:33 AM
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reply to post by AceWombat04
 


My problem with the whole donuts-on-a-rope as being proof of anything is that I've seen normal contrails start to look like that under the right conditions. And the pulse detonation engine people claim is used to create that is incredibly inefficient, even in small scale tests.



posted on May, 4 2013 @ 02:15 AM
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reply to post by Zaphod58
 


Right. That's why I ask, is it more probable that these were misidentification of mundane aircraft (and their contrails)? Because if they had a successful platform at those postulated speeds that long ago, what would be the point of spending the money, time, and resources they are on X-51? It's clear from X-51 that this is not something they have mastered, but rather something they are just beginning to come to grips with. Why would that be the case if Aurora had multiple successful flights - even test flights? That's why I'm skeptical.

Peace.



posted on May, 4 2013 @ 12:50 PM
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Originally posted by Zaphod58
reply to post by FraternitasSaturni
 


On a technical note, the reason Concorde failed was because it had to fly several hundred miles out to sea before it could go supersonic (there were issues such as operating cost, and profit involved too, but we're ignoring those to concentrate on the technical aspect). This meant that you still had to fly subsonic for a couple hours before you could go supersonic.

Supersonic flight over land causes problems (broken windows, things falling off shelves, cracked foundations....). NASA and others are working on a "quiet" supersonic aircraft that would allow them to fly supersonic over land, which means the entire flight (except take off and landing obviously), would be at supersonic speeds. There's no point in replacing Concorde until that happens, because the exact same problems would crop up now.


There were reports of mystery sonic boom bangs back in the 1980's on the East Coast of the USA. I guess this could have been the cause.

If it is possible to create "wakeless boats" - I've seen these old wooden cargo boats with a sharp vertical bow, and a gently sloping stern that don't leave any ripples, shouldn't the same be possible in air. I read that the NASA approach was to actually use the interference from two or more points to actually cancel the shockwaves out.



posted on May, 4 2013 @ 12:53 PM
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reply to post by stormcell
 


We used to have reports of earthquakes rocking the windward side of Oahu for months before they finally figured out it was F-4 Phantoms belonging to the Air National Guard about 150 miles off shore.





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