PopSci’s Best List includes Xombie, Falcon 9, X-37B and Waverider

X-51 Waverider

Popular Science‘s “Best of What’s New 2010” list includes four projects that we have been closely following here at Parabolic Arc:

Congratulations to all the winners!

Lockheed Rocket Motor Helped X-51 Hit Mach 5

X-51 Waverider

LOCKHEED MARTIN PRESS RELEASE

Lockheed Martin announced today that its Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) rocket motor successfully boosted the experimental X-51A WaveRider beyond Mach 4.5, the speed at which a scramjet will start and begin to provide thrust. The successful boost helped the X-51 hypersonic scramjet engine to accelerate to a historic Mach 5, a first for the vehicle.

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Debate Over U.S. Military’s Hypersonic First-Strike Technology

Spate of Hypersonic Vehicle Tests Fuels Global Strike Debate
National Defense Magazine

The military’s reusable space plane, the X-37B, and its classified payload lifted off in April only one day after the maiden flight of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2 suborbital glider. It flew nine minutes before operators lost its signal and were forced to abort the mission.

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Hypersonic Future: Superfast Weapons and Access to Space

X-51A Waverider

Air Force Sees Hypersonic Weapons and Spaceships in Future
Space.com

A recent United States Air Force scramjet test has hinted at a future where hypersonic vehicles streak through the sky at many times the speed of sound around the world, and perhaps even open up access to space.

The experimental X-51A Waverider used a rocket booster and an air-breathing scramjet to reach a speed of Mach 5 and achieve the longest hypersonic flight ever powered by such an engine on May 26. That technology might not only deliver cargo quickly to different parts of the globe, but could also transform the space industry and spawn true space planes that take off and land from the same runway.

The wealth of possibilities offered by aerospace vehicles that can ride their own shockwaves likely explains why the project has drawn support from the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), NASA, and the U.S. Navy.

“We could have in the future such things as hypersonic weapons that fly 600 nautical miles in 10 minutes,” said Charlie Brink, X-51A program manager with the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, during a June 1 teleconference.

Read the full story.

Video: X-51A Waverider Goes Hypersonic Over the Pacific

(AFNS) An X-51A Waverider flight-test vehicle successfully made the longest supersonic combustion ramjet-powered hypersonic flight May 26 off the southern California Pacific coast.

The more than 200 second burn by the X-51’s Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne-built air breathing scramjet engine accelerated the vehicle to Mach 6. The previous longest scramjet burn in a flight test was 12 seconds in a NASA X-43.

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X-51A Waverider Hypersonic Flight Delayed

X-51 Waverider

(AFNS) The scheduled May 25 launch of the X-51A Waverider hypersonic flight test vehicle has been postponed 24 hours. The delay was due to the presence of a freighter transiting in a section of the Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range several hundred miles off the California coast.

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U.S. Military Sees X-51 as the Wave(rider) of the Future

X-51 Waverider

Over at Spaceflight Now, Craig Covault has a detailed story about the military’s X-51 hypersonic vehicle, which is set to take its first test flight next week. The test is a precursor to what officials hope will be an entirely new way to send payloads into space:

The first hypersonic X-51 scramjet powered long-duration flights to give the Pentagon a new “Prompt Global Strike” capability that ties atmospheric and space propulsion will begin as early as May 25 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The X-vehicle scramjet flight tests are also a key step for the use of air breathing propulsion to launch into space.

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X-51A Hypersonic Vehicle Set for Flights at End of May

X-51 Waverider

Scramjet with stamina ready for hypersonic test
NewScientist

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.

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Orbital Would Put Additional COTS Funding Toward Testing, Extra Test Flight

Orbital Would Use COTS Boost To Augment Taurus 2 Testing
Space News

If Congress approves NASA’s plan to add $300 million to its 2011 budget to develop commercial cargo delivery systems for the international space station, Orbital Sciences Corp. likely would use its share of the funding to augment ground testing of its planned medium-lift Taurus 2 rocket and possibly conduct an additional test flight of the vehicle, according to David W. Thompson, Orbital’s chairman and chief executive.

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Air Force to Fly Hypersonic X-51 Waverider Vehicle in March

X-51 Waverider

U.S. Air Force Set To Begin X-51 Hypersonic Flight Tests
Space News

The maiden flight of the X-51 Waverider aircraft — the first U.S. hypersonic vehicle to fly in six years — is scheduled to take place later in March. Boeing Defense, Space & Security Systems of St. Louis has been developing the aircraft since 2003 on behalf of the Air Force Research Laboratory and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

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X-51A Waverider Takes First Captive Flight

X-51 Waverider
X-51 Waverider

PRATT & WHITNEY ROCKETDYNE PRESS RELEASE

The U.S. Air Force X-51A WaveRider vehicle yesterday successfully made its first captive carry flight under the wing of a B-52 carry aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The X-51A is powered by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, a United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) company.

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Hypersonic X-51 Waverider Set for First Flight

X-51 Waverider
X-51 Waverider

Mach 6 test aircraft set for trials: X-51A WaveRider could change aircraft design
Network World

The aspiration that jets may some day fly at over six-times the speed of sound took a very real step toward reality recently as the US Air Force said it successfully married the test aircraft, known as the X-51A WaveRider to a B-52 in preparation for a Dec. 2 flight test.

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Scramjet Engine Installed in Second X-51A Waverider Vehicle

X-51 Waverider
X-51 Waverider

PRATT & WHITNEY PRESS RELEASE

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne’s scramjet engine SJY61-2 has been installed in the second X-51A flight test vehicle at Boeing Phantom Works in Palmdale, Calif. This is the second of four engines that will be used in flight testing of the X-51A scheduled to begin later this year. The X-51A is expected to exceed Mach 6 and set the foundation for several hypersonic applications. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is a unit of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX).

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X-51A WaveRider Prepared for December Test Flights

On the flightline of Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Staff Sgt. Jonathan Young prepares to upload the X-51A WaveRider hypersonic flight test vehicle to a B-52 Stratofortress July 17 for fit testing. Two B-52 test flights are planned this fall prior to the X-51's first hypersonic scramjet flight over the Pacific Ocean scheduled in December. Representatives from the Air Force Research Laboratory, DARPA, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and Boeing are partnering on the X-51A technology demonstrator program.
On the flightline of Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Staff Sgt. Jonathan Young prepares to upload the X-51A WaveRider hypersonic flight test vehicle to a B-52 Stratofortress July 17 for fit testing. Two B-52 test flights are planned this fall prior to the X-51's first hypersonic scramjet flight over the Pacific Ocean scheduled in December. Representatives from the Air Force Research Laboratory, DARPA, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and Boeing are partnering on the X-51A technology demonstrator program.

 

AIR FORCE PRESS RELEASE

Airmen successfully mated the X-51A WaveRider flight test vehicle to a B-52 Stratofortress July 17 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The fit check followed integration earlier in the month of the Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne scramjet propulsion system into the X-51 at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif.

The X-51 test vehicle is now back at the Boeing facility in Palmdale where additional systems integration and testing are taking place in preparation for its inaugural flight test in December, said Charlie Brink, X-51 program manager from the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Propulsion Directorate here.

During the flight test, currently planned Dec. 2, the Air Force Flight Test Center’s B-52 will carry the X-51A to 50,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean then release it. A solid rocket booster from an Army tactical missile system then will ignite and accelerate the X-51 to about Mach 4.5. Then, the supersonic combustion ramjet propulsion system will propel the vehicle for five minutes to more than Mach 6. Hypersonic combustion generates intense heat so routing of the engine’s own JP-7 fuel will help keep the engine at the desired operating temperature.

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