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The Military Transportation Technology

Mach 6 Test Aircraft Set For Trials 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the fly-her-apart-then dept.
coondoggie writes "The aspiration that jets may someday fly at over six times the speed of sound took a very real step toward reality recently, as the US Air Force said it successfully married the test aircraft, known as the X-51A WaveRider, to a B-52 in preparation for a Dec. 2 flight test. The X-51A flight tests are intended to demonstrate that the engines can achieve their desired speed without disintegrating. While the X-51 looks like a large rocket now, its applications could change the way aircraft or spaceships are designed, fly into space, support reconnaissance missions and handle long-distance flight operations. At the heart of the test is the aircraft's air-breathing hypersonic scramjet system."
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Mach 6 Test Aircraft Set For Trials

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  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by voss (52565) on Saturday September 05, 2009 @12:38PM (#29323931)

    Engines reaching desired speed without disintegrating....thats a GOOD feature to have.

  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Saturday September 05, 2009 @01:06PM (#29324145)

    Which would be more economical in the long run?

    Depends almost entirely on how fast you can get on scramjets. I don't think Mach six is enough to make it worth the bother. But I'm pretty sure Mach twelve would be enough to make it worthwhile.

  • Real step? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SlayerofGods (682938) on Saturday September 05, 2009 @01:12PM (#29324191)
    The X-43 [] already did mach 9.68.
    This is actually a bigger step towards making a mach 6 missile [] rather then a mach 6 plane....
  • by PPH (736903) on Saturday September 05, 2009 @02:25PM (#29324693)
    ... they could save me more travel time by not making me take my shoes off and stand in endless, pointless security lines.
  • by speedlaw (878924) on Saturday September 05, 2009 @02:52PM (#29324977) Homepage
    At some point, some of the Black projects bear fruit. We now need to admit that this can happen, now that we want to go big with it. Sorta like stealth, we had it for a while but at some point needed to go "white" with it. If it is ready for prime time, cool. You didn't think the SR 71 wasn't replaced, did you ?
  • by DerekLyons (302214) <<fairwater> <at> <>> on Saturday September 05, 2009 @02:58PM (#29325021) Homepage

    When calling the Concorde (or any other aircraft) "too expensive to create, manufacture, and maintain." on needs to take into account the ticket price the market will bear.

    And on that issue - the market has spoken loudly and clearly. "It ain't worth it".
    Yeah, I know the Concorde made a paper 'profit' towards the end - but the proof is in the amount of money the airlines were willing to spend to keep this 'profitable' airliner in operation, which coincidentally is equal to the number of Concorde's still in service...
    I you can't make enough money to pay your own maintenance bills, then making a 'profit' is pretty much meaningless.

  • Re:Worthless (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday September 05, 2009 @04:26PM (#29325941) Journal
    Scramjet is one of the easiest engines to build. In fact, they will be a great deal less expensive for maintenance. It is just difficult to get it correct. It will also be difficult to get it up to the speed. Right now, we are using a rocket to get there. But down the road, we will likely use a ramjet which will be inefficient taking off (probably will use an electronic runway launcher to get going), all the way to the mach 5.
  • by D Ninja (825055) on Saturday September 05, 2009 @05:21PM (#29326441)

    Hmmm...I'm reading my post, and I don't mean to say that it would be great 9/11 would still happen. Don't get me wrong - 9/11 sucked and I would never want that to happen again. But, when I say "what's great" is the fact that nobody seemed to stop and think about how pointless many/most of the security measures actually are. (AKA, I was attempting sarcasm and it definitely did not come apologies.)

  • Re:Worthless (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pohl (872) on Saturday September 05, 2009 @05:54PM (#29326699) Homepage

    You sound very sure. I'm curious, how would a Patriot (traveling at its top speed of Mach 5) overtake and intercept something traveling at the same (or greater) speed given that the latter has a rage of 600 nautical miles and the former has a range of 99 miles?

    Are you sure that stealth is a priority given the X-51's intended mission []?

  • by cheesybagel (670288) on Saturday September 05, 2009 @06:20PM (#29326893)
    The problem with using scramjets is that you need another engine for liftoff, and yet another engine for space travel (scramjets are made for travelling inside the atmosphere at only startup at a certain Mach number). With a rocket engine you only need *one* engine to go for zero velocity to space. In other summary, scramjets make no sense for space travel.

    Scramjets would be nice for a high speed reconaissance platform or bomber though.

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