Toward the end of a long article about the Pentagon’s effort to achieve Prompt Global Strike capability, reporter Sharon Weinberger looks at the military’s multiple ventures into the realm of hypersonics:
An alternative to the conventionally armed land-based ICBM is a hypersonic weapon, essentially a cruise missile capable of traveling at many times the speed of sound-faster than anything in todayâ€™s conventional arsenal. These missiles would not have to leave the Earthâ€™s atmosphere and would have very different trajectories from ICBMs, so Russia would be less likely to mistake them for nuclear weapons.
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.
Spate of Hypersonic Vehicle Tests Fuels Global Strike Debate National Defense Magazine
The militaryâ€™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 Agencyâ€™s Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2 suborbital glider. It flew nine minutes before operators lost its signal and were forced to abort the mission.
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.
U.S. Air Force Set To Begin X-51 Hypersonic Flight Tests Space News
The maiden flight of the X-51 Waverider aircraft â€” the first U.S. hypersonic vehicle to fly in six years â€” 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.
Scramjet engine flight tests to start this fall Dayton Daily News
This fall, the Air Force will send a futuristic-looking aircraft roaring out over the Pacific Ocean at nearly five times the speed of sound in its first flight test of a scramjet engine.
Officials hope the engine eventually will provide a speedier transition between conventional aircraft in the atmosphere and rockets in outer space for deployment of satellites, and reconnaissance or strike missions.
â€œThe long-range goal of this for the Air Force is access to space,â€ said Charlie Brink, an Air Force Research Laboratory propulsion directorate official who manages the X-51 program from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
Hypersonic â€˜WaveRiderâ€™ poised for test flight MSNBC
Hoping to bridge the gap between airplanes and rocketships, the U.S. military is preparing to test an experimental aircraft that can fly more than six times faster than the speed of sound on ordinary jet fuel.
Alliant Techsystems announced today that it successfully completed testing for a new class of hypersonic propulsion systems that will enable High Speed Strike Weapons and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to travel long distances at velocities more than five times the speed of sound.