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.
Turkish President Erdogan has for years strengthened his relationship with the masses and with people's trust in him enabled the coup to be around in only a few hours
Two knife-wielding attackers are killed by police after taking hostages in northern French church
President Salva Kiir sacks VP when he fails to heed 48-hour ulimatum to return to capital Juba
Iraq stands in 'full cooperation' with Turkey, parliament speaker says
Defense lawyer says ISIL not designated terror group when Adam Dandach planned 2013 Syria trip
Calling failed putsch in Turkey 'dangerous,' movement leader also looks to formation of new Tunisian unity govt
Demonstrators wave flags, chant slogans against broadcaster's coverage of overthrow attempt
In New York Times Op-Ed, FETO leader accused of coup plotting asks US not to extradite him to Turkey to face charges
Amid email leak controversy, Sanders tells Democrats 'Hillary Clinton must become the next president'
Ugandan police chief to face trial for violating citizens' rights, says prosecutor
Britain plans to send 500 soldiers ahead of offensive to retake Mosul from ISIL
The last member of an extremist cell threatening to prepare attacks in Rio has been arrested
Claiming that the WTO is a disaster, White House nominee Donald Trump said that if there was no renegotiation then the US could pull out of the WTO
A new law that raises the pension age has been the subject of much contention with thousands rallying in Morocco
Democratic Party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has resigned following a leak of emails suggesting an insider attempt to hobble the campaign of Hillary Clinton’s rival in the White House primaries Bernie Sanders.