The X-51A WaveRider is expected to fly as fast as 4,000 mph (Mach 6). But in its first flight Dec. 9, it stayed firmly tucked under the wing of a B-52H Stratofortress.
The WaveRider’s first hypersonic test flight, set for mid-February 2010.
On that mission, a B-52 will release the WaveRider 50,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean. A solid rocket booster will ignite and accelerate the WaveRider to Mach 4.5; then, its supersonic combustion ramjet, or scramjet, propulsion system will kick in for about five minutes to take it all the way to Mach 6. The longest scramjet test to date lasted only 10 seconds.
The X-51A demonstration vehicle is intended to show that scramjets can fly for long durations at high speeds without overheating. The WaveRider could be used for intelligence-gathering and bombing missions in addition to space launches.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.