Image: X-51A Makes Longest Scramjet Flight

Jun 03, 2010
Image Credit: NASA

(PhysOrg.com) -- The X-51A successfully made the longest supersonic combustion ramjet-powered hypersonic flight to date off the southern California coast on May 26. It was powered by a SJX61-2 that was first validated in a NASA wind tunnel.

The air-breathing scramjet engine, built by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, burned for more than 200 seconds to accelerate the U.S. Air Force's X-51A vehicle to Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound. It broke the previous record for the longest scramjet burn in a flight test, set by NASA's X-43 vehicle.

In this image from 2008, the SJX61-2 successfully completed ground tests simulating Mach 5 flight conditions at NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.

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User comments : 3

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frackingawesome
3.3 / 5 (3) Jun 03, 2010
Yeah, but it still failed. They did not get up to full speed, and the test fell well short of the planned flight time. Semi-Success.

Hopefully they will be able to get the kinks worked out and get this thing up to full speed!
rwinners
not rated yet Jun 03, 2010
This is quite an improvement. Previous long hypersonic burn was 12 seconds. And other media say that this flight was at 6 times the speed of sound.
baudrunner
not rated yet Jun 04, 2010
It didn't reach maximum velocity because it ran out of fuel. Still need fuel in a scramjet.