RESTON, VA (AIAA PR) – The X-51A WaveRider team has won the 2014 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Foundation’s Award for Excellence. The team will receive the award on April 30 at the AIAA Spotlight Awards Gala at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, in Washington, D.C.
The team is being honored “for the demonstration of the feasibility of sustained air breathing hypersonic flight by achieving a 300 second flight at Mach 5.”
Video Caption: The US Air Force Research Laboratory’s Boeing X-51A WaveRider unmanned vehicle achieved the longest air-breathing hypersonic, scramjet-powered flight on its May 1 fourth test flight, flying for 3.5 minutes on supersonic-combustion ramjet power and reaching a maximum speed of Mach 5.1.
Aviation Week has a report on a hypersonic test flight that took place on Wednesday:
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 U.S. Air Force has developed a decadal technological road map for hypersonic vehicles that will help to focus the disparate development programs being pursued by America’s defense organizations.
However, anyone hoping this research will quickly find its way into civilian transports capable of whisking passengers from New York to Sydney in two hours is going to be disappointed. That’s likely to take a long time.
The fourth and final X-51A Waverider hypersonic vehicle is being prepared for a test flight set for late next spring or early summer, the U.S. Air Force announced on Wednesday. Investigators have also identified the likely cause of a failed flight two months ago.
Preliminary results from an investigation into what went wrong during the August flight indicate that a “random vibration issue” caused one of the control fins to deploy early, the X-51 program manager at the Air Force Research Laboratory, Charlie Brink, told reporters on a conference call.
The hypersonic X-51A Waverider vehicle, designed to fly at Mach 6 for five minutes, failed in flight on Tuesday due a flaw in a control fin. The U.S. Air Force has issued the following statement:
“The X-51A Waverider successfully launched from an Air Force B-52 bomber over Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range Aug. 14 at approximately 11:36 a.m. PST.
The X-51 safely separated from the B-52 and the rocket booster fired as planned. However after 16 seconds, a fault was identified with one of the cruiser control fins. Once the X-51 separated from the rocket booster, approximately 15 seconds later, the cruiser was not able to maintain control due to the faulty control fin and was lost.
95th Air Base Wing Public Affairs — 6/15/2011 – EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — A second test of the X-51A Waverider flew June 13, 2011, in the Point Mugu Naval Air Test Range over the Pacific Ocean, bringing significant hypersonic research data in a less than successful flight test.
The hypersonic aircraft was successfully boosted to just over Mach 5, and the scramjet engine lit but failed to transition to full power. (more…)
By Derek Kaufman USAF 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
3/16/2011Â -Â WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS)Â –Â Air Force engineers currently plan to flyÂ the second X-51A Waverider hypersonic flight test demonstrator as early as March 22, program officials said March 15.
“We are proud of the first flight results, and at the same time we understand the inherent risk in a high-technology demonstrator like the X-51A,” said Curtis Berger, the director of theÂ hypersonics programs atÂ Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, the companyÂ that built the X-51A’s fuel-cooled supersonic combustion ramjet, or scramjet engine.Â “We can’t wait to get this second vehicle in the air and show what we can do.”
AIAA PR â€“ March 9, 2011 â€“ Reston, Va. â€“ The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) congratulates the X-51A Waverider hypersonic vehicle team on receiving an Aviation Week & Space Technology Laureate Award March 8 at Aviation Weekâ€™s annual awards dinner. The team was honored in the Aeronautics and Propulsion category.
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.
(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-51â€™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.
(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.
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.