X-60A hypersonic flight research vehicle program completes critical design review

March 8, 2019, Air Force Research Laboratory
Illustration of X-60A launch. Credit: Air Force Office of Scientific Research

The Air Force Research Laboratory, Aerospace Systems Directorate, High Speed Systems Division, in partnership with Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc., is developing the X-60A vehicle. It is an air-dropped liquid rocket specifically designed for hypersonic flight research.   

X-60A program completed its Critical Design Review, a major milestone in the program.  The program now moves into the fabrication phase.  The initial of the vehicle, scheduled in about a year, is based out of Cecil Spaceport in Jacksonville, Florida.

A key part of the X-60A program is that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration-licensed Cecil Spaceport provides a diversification in hypersonic flight testing to traditional Department of Defense flight test ranges.  Additionally, this is the first Air Force Small Business Innovative Research program to receive an experimental "X" designation, in a long line of historical X-planes that includes hypersonic vehicles such as the X-15 and X-51A.

AFRL's motivation for the X-60A is to increase the frequency of flight testing while lowering the cost of maturing hypersonic technologies in relevant flight conditions. While hypersonic ground test facilities are vital in technology development, we must also test those technologies with actual hypersonic flight conditions.  

The X-60A rocket propulsion system is the Hadley liquid rocket engine, which utilizes liquid oxygen and kerosene propellants. The system is designed to provide affordable and regular access to high dynamic pressure flight conditions above Mach 5. 

Explore further: Hypersonic flight test goes like a rocket

Related Stories

Hypersonic flight test goes like a rocket

July 17, 2017

Commercialised flight faster than five times the speed of sound has been brought one step closer, thanks to a successful experimental flight featuring University of Queensland knowhow.

Air Force scientists are working on hypersonic air vehicle

June 7, 2015

Engineers said the US Air Force is getting closer to testing a hypersonic weapon. They are developing a hypersonic weapon based on an experimental scramjet program. What is a scramjet? NASA said in a "scramjet," or Supersonic ...

Recommended for you

Semimetals are high conductors

March 18, 2019

Researchers in China and at UC Davis have measured high conductivity in very thin layers of niobium arsenide, a type of material called a Weyl semimetal. The material has about three times the conductivity of copper at room ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Mar 09, 2019
Looks like they got really scared when Russia announced they had flight-ready hypersonic missiles a few years back.
Da Schneib
not rated yet Mar 09, 2019
Russia does a lot of posing.

Just sayin'.
5 / 5 (1) Mar 09, 2019
They may do a lot of posing, but Sputnik WAS the first up, and they actually put the first landers on the moon, their probe Luna 2 hard landed with no reply after landing, but hey, that happens in the space race when it is a military project. They were prepared to use one way Cosmonauts, just to say they won, even with the cost of life.

I know I used to be military so know how they work. Humans are the disposable part of the military. If you do not believe me, the following vid should clue you in, it was held over our head as a punishment detail for troublemakers when I was in:

But this is just the tip of what we have, when the Russians bring out something new, we have to show that we are at least in the field, if not ahead.

Standard military and national ego stuff.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.