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The flight test for the experimental X-51A WaveRider plane which could potentially travel up to 4500mph has resulted in failure.
According to the U.S. Air Force, the flight test for the experimental X-51A WaveRider plane which could potentially travel up to 4500mph has resulted in failure.
As previously reported on SmartPlanet, the aircraft was prepared for its test flight at Edwards Air Force Base in southern California.
The trial flight for the aircraft, nicknamed Scramjet, has resulted in the third failure of the flight in three separate tests.
The Scramjet was successfully attached to a B-52 bomber's wing before being deployed approximately 50,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean. It was due to free-fall for four seconds before its engines ignited, which would in theory propel the aircraft with force five times the speed of sound after 30 seconds, climbing to 70,000 feet.
After this, the prototype was to be allowed to break up after hitting the Pacific Ocean, with no plans of recovery.
However, the test flight did not go exactly as planned. The Scramjet successfully managed to launch from the wing of the bomber, but after 16 seconds a malfunction appeared in one of the control fins. Due to this, the plane was unable to maintain its course and complete its acceleration and climb -- and the test was aborted before the scramjet engines managed to ignite.
Spiraling out of control, the plane is now ensconced in a Pacific watery grave.
Air Force Program Manager Charlie Brink called the results "unfortunate", saying:
"All our data showed we had created the right conditions for engine ignition and we were very hopeful to meet our test objectives."
The Air Force is currently working to try and determine why the control fin malfunction occurred.
Image credit: U.S. Air Force
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Rather than develop something like this why not use suborbital ballistic trajectories to deliver people around the world. Any place in the world is no more than about 90 minutes away from any place else that way.
If passengers are willing to tolerate 1/2 of 1 gravity of acceleration for 7 minutes, an airplane would be able to accelerate from 0 to 4500 mph, fly between NYC & London & decelerate to 0 in about an hour. Seats that rotate from forward to rearward facing would be needed. Ideally, they would tilt as well, but hardly a technical challenge either way.
Ouch. Too many G's for the average person. Unless they can get those darn inertial dampeners to work.
That would at least expand the market willing to fly it. Gramdma going back to the old country might not take it well, but a healthy business type would love it. Breakfast on Long Island, a working lunch in London and dinner in NYC.