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Old 11-16-2004, 11:25 PM   #1 (permalink)
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NASA 'Scramjet' Soars at Almost 7,000 Mph

What a trip to ride on this one.


LOS ANGELES (AP) - A tiny unmanned NASA "scramjet" soared above the Pacific Ocean Tuesday at nearly 10 times the speed of sound, or almost 7,000 mph, in a successful demonstration of a radical new engine technology.

The 12-foot-long X-43A supersonic combustion ramjet reached about Mach 9.7, said Leslie Williams, a spokeswoman at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base.

The exotic aircraft was designed to fly under its own power for about 10 seconds after separating from a booster rocket at 110,000 feet, then glide to a splash landing.

Details of the craft's exact performance were to be announced later from Dryden, but mission officials were jubilant immediately after the brief flight.

"Once again we made aviation history. We did that in March when we went seven times the speed of sound and now we've done it right around 10 times the speed of sound," said Vince Rausch, Hyper-X program manager from NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia.

The X-43A, mounted on a Pegasus rocket used to boost it to flight speed, was carried under the wing of a B-52 aircraft and released at an altitude of 40,000 feet over a test range off the Southern California coast. The rocket motor then fired for a 90-second ascent.

Like its predecessors, the X-43A will not be recovered from the ocean.

The flight was the last in a $230 million-plus effort to test technology most likely to be initially used in military aircraft, such as a bomber that could reach any target on Earth within two hours of takeoff from the United States, or to power missiles.

Scramjets may also provide an alternative to rockets for space launches.

Unlike conventional jet engines which use rotating fan blades to compress air for combustion, the X-43A has no rotating engine parts. Instead it uses the underside of the aircraft's forebody to "scoop" up and compress air for mixing with hydrogen fuel.

The X-43A launched Tuesday was the last of three built for NASA's Hyper-X program.

The first X-43A flight failed in 2001 when the booster rocket veered off course and was destroyed.

The second X-43A successfully flew in March, reaching Mach 6.83 - nearly 5,000 mph - and setting a world speed record for a plane powered by an air-breathing engine.

That was more than double the top speed of the jet-powered SR-71 Blackbird spyplane, which at slightly more than Mach 3 is the fastest air-breathing, manned aircraft.

The old X-15 was the fastest rocket-powered manned airplane, hitting Mach 6.7. Rockets do not "breathe" air, but instead carry oxidizers that are combined with fuel to allow combustion.

Not having to carry oxygen is one of the advantages scramjets hold over rockets. Rockets can also achieve high speeds, but the weight of oxygen tanks or other oxidizers reduces the amount of payload they can carry.

Tuesday's launch was expected to be the last research flight for NASA's B-52, which is being retired after some 40 years of service.

---

On the Net:

Dryden Flight Research Center: http://www.dfrc.nasa.gov

Langley Research Center: http://www.larc.nasa.gov
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Old 11-17-2004, 03:13 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Not going to recover it form the ocean? I'm getting a boat with a crane.
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Old 11-17-2004, 03:25 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Amazing!
The world will be a really small place when they start to use this technology for commercial use.
Cant wait
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Old 11-17-2004, 06:30 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Location: france
I was hugely impressed by this, then only very slightly less chuffed when I heard it had not only to be launched from a B52, but then brought up to speed by a rocket.
Anyway, quite an achievement. Go NASA!
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Old 11-17-2004, 08:19 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Mach 10... geez.. mach 10...
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Old 11-17-2004, 09:46 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Imagine feel the Gs from that . I've been reading a little bit about the differences, and I found this website http://www.aviation-history.com/engines/ramjet.htm
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Old 11-17-2004, 04:51 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Wow, that is insane. I cant even comprehend 7,000 mph.
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Old 11-17-2004, 05:27 PM   #8 (permalink)
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it's pretty damn fast but I'm not too sure we'll see that in our lifetime, at least on a commercial basis. Also, it is my understanding that the actual maximum speed of the SR71 is quite a bit faster than the one they confess to, I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist, but it was probably Top Secret for a reason (off hand, I'd say at least Mach 5). On another note, there's almost nothing being made of the swan song for the B-52 in NASA service, you'd think after 40 years of service that someone would say something.
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Old 11-17-2004, 09:17 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ilow
it's pretty damn fast but I'm not too sure we'll see that in our lifetime, at least on a commercial basis. Also, it is my understanding that the actual maximum speed of the SR71 is quite a bit faster than the one they confess to, I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist, but it was probably Top Secret for a reason (off hand, I'd say at least Mach 5).
Oh, you're very right. My father was doing intelligence work monitoring the Soviets during the Vietnam era, and he told me that the SR71 could more than double the acknowldeged speed. His description of a takeoff was that it would scream down the runway, get a couple hundred feet off, hit the afterburners and just disappear from sight with an awe-inspirign scream and a thundering sonic boom.
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Old 11-18-2004, 08:01 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Oh, you're very right. My father was doing intelligence work monitoring the Soviets during the Vietnam era, and he told me that the SR71 could more than double the acknowldeged speed. His description of a takeoff was that it would scream down the runway, get a couple hundred feet off, hit the afterburners and just disappear from sight with an awe-inspirign scream and a thundering sonic boom.
Ohhh awesome. What is the SR71 claimed max speed anyway... like Mach 2.5?
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Old 11-18-2004, 10:10 AM   #11 (permalink)
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7,000 MPH... insane. The space shuttle, when in proper orbit, travels at 17,500 MPH and orbits the Earth once every 90 minutes. Insane speeds...
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Old 11-18-2004, 04:40 PM   #12 (permalink)
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It's good to know that ramjet technology is being effectively developed now, it should make for some very fast aircraft in the future. Though as mentioned, it's unlikely to be seen in commercial applications anytime soon. Though I wonder if other countries will use the technology or if America will guard it.
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Old 11-18-2004, 05:06 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Vortex22
Ohhh awesome. What is the SR71 claimed max speed anyway... like Mach 2.5?
Over 3.2 is the official speed.
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Old 11-18-2004, 10:02 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Damn...just damn..that is fast....it's one of things that just puts me in awe instantly.
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Old 11-20-2004, 09:53 PM   #15 (permalink)
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The SR-71's official top-end is Mach 3.2-something. The "Aurora" and "Dark Star" project planes rumored to be undergoing testing in New Mexico are supposedly capable of Mach-7 plus, using either scramjet or "Pulse Detonation Waverider" engines....scary stuff.
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Old 11-21-2004, 01:45 PM   #16 (permalink)
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That is amazing! Just imagine in the future we could just pop over to Hong Kong for a 'Chinese' or Mexico for Fajitas. Pop over to Paris for a spot of shopping all in a day!
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Old 11-23-2004, 10:37 PM   #17 (permalink)
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In just a couple years, you will be able to fly from NY to Sidney in 45 min :P
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Old 11-24-2004, 04:15 PM   #18 (permalink)
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We were checking out the SR71 that sits just next door to the USS Alabama last spring. What an absolute monster!
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Old 11-30-2004, 09:32 AM   #19 (permalink)
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What is that, like half way around the world in an hour or something? shit that's fast
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Old 11-30-2004, 12:45 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by castex
We were checking out the SR71 that sits just next door to the USS Alabama last spring. What an absolute monster!
Yeah I saw that thing when I was there, that thing was awesome, a bit fugly, but awesome nonetheless.
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Old 11-30-2004, 12:48 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by omega2K4
Yeah I saw that thing when I was there, that thing was awesome, a bit fugly, but awesome nonetheless.
Fugly? That's gotta be the most beautiful plane in existence! Eye of the beholder, indeed.
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