World Bulletin / News Desk
The U.S. military conducted an unmanned test flight on Tuesday of its hypersonic Waverider aircraft, designed to move at six times the speed of sound using technology that bridges the gap between planes and rocketships, a military official said.
A B-52 bomber launched the remotely monitored, nearly wingless experimental aircraft, officially known as the X-51A, between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. (1700 and 1800 GMT), John Haire, a spokesman for the 412th test wing at Edwards Air Force Base in California, said in a statement. Results of the brief test flight will be released on Wednesday, he said.
The plan had been to conduct the test flight over the Pacific Ocean after a staging at Edwards, said Deborah VanNierop, a spokeswoman for Boeing Co, which was involved in constructing the craft, said in a statement.
The Waverider is designed to reach speeds of Mach 6 or above, fast enough to zoom from New York to London in less than an hour. But rather than commercial air travel, the military has its eye on a more readily achievable application - using it to develop high-speed cruise missiles.
The X-51A was launched off the coast of California near Naval Air Station Point Mugu, which is northwest of Los Angeles, Haire said. It flew north over the Pacific through a range that is designed for test flights.
"The X-51 is not retrievable, in other words once you fly it, it's going to end up in the ocean," Haire said.
The aircraft is known as the Waverider because it stays airborne, in part, with lift generated by the shock waves of its own flight.
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne designed the X-51A's "scramject" engine, which uses the forward motion of the craft to compress air for fuel combustion, according to a description of the project from the military.
After being dropped from the B-52, a solid-rocket booster is used in the initial phase of the plane's flight to bring it up to speeds that can allow its scramjet engine to take over, by inhaling air through the craft's forward momentum.
In 2004, NASA reached a speed of Mach 9.6, or nearly 7,000 miles per hour (11,265 kph), with a jet-powered aircraft. But that vehicle, known as X-43, only flew for a few seconds and its copper-based engine was not designed to survive the flight.
Engineers have hoped to see the hypersonic X-51A travel for five minutes of powered flight. For protection from extreme heat, it uses insulation tiles, similar to those on the NASA space shuttle orbiters, according to a 2011 military description of the project.
Hypersonic flight is normally defined as beginning at Mach 5, which is five times the speed of sound.
Ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi and 130 co-defendants are accused of involvement in a mass jailbreak during Egypt's 2011 uprising that led to the ouster of autocratic president Hosni Mubarak.
French police released Boutros Ghali hours after he was arrested at the request of Interpol on arriving in Paris from London
In June, the government and the Tuareg rebel group, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MLNA), signed a ceasefire deal.
More than 300 people remained missing, 164 poeple rescued after a South Korean ferry with 477 people aboard capsized off the country's southwest
Buganda Kingdom represents Uganda's largest ethnic group.
Former general, Pervez Musharraf was stunned by a member of his legal counsel's unplanned statement to the court.
A UN Special Rapporteur on a visit to the U.K. to investigate violence against women has been left unimpressed with the country's obvious and pervasive sexism.
The men on top of the troop carriers, some of whom were masked, were armed with Kalashnikov rifles, grenade launchers, knives and pistols.
South Africans will elect in May members of the National Assembly and provincial parliaments.
Capture in Cali shows cooperation between Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel and Colombia’s guerrilla and paramilitary groups.
A protest to draw attention to the problems with Brazil's health system while the goverment spends public money on World Cup preparations, took place in Sao Paulo on Tuesday evening.
Many of those arrested in the South C area are said to be Pakistani, Indian, Chinese and Somali nationals.
The rebels had earlier claimed full control of Bentiu, capital of the oil-producing Unity State.
Thousands of refugees from South Sudan continue to flood over the border into Ethiopia according to the The UN refugee agency.
The attempt by the Kiev government to reassert control slowly without bloodshed came on the eve of four-power talks in Geneva