Air Test Range X-51A Ended In Disappointment When A Part Failed


A carefully watched analysis flight of an beginning aircraft advised to biking up to 3,600 mph concluded in disappointment back a allotment failed, causing it to collapse into the Pacific Ocean, the Air Force revealed.

The unmanned X-51A WaveRider was launched over the Pacific Tuesday from aloft the Point Mugu Naval Air Analysis Range in a key analysis to fine-tune its hypersonic scramjet engine.

The aircraft was advised to hit mach 6, or six times the acceleration of sound, and fly for bristles minutes. But that didn’t happen. The agent never alike lit.

About 15 abnormal into the flight, a accountability was articular in one of the WaveRider's ascendancy fins, and the aircraft was not able to advance ascendancy and was lost.

GRAPHIC: Super-sized speed

"It is adverse that a botheration with this subsystem acquired a abortion afore we could ablaze the Scramjet engine," Charlie Brink, affairs administrator for the Air Force Analysis Laboratory said in a statement. "All our abstracts showed we had created the appropriate altitude for agent agitation and we were actual hopeful to accommodated our analysis objectives."

This is the third time the WaveRider has flown. Not one flight has gone the distance.

Engineers anticipation they were on the appropriate clue with the WaveRider affairs in May 2010 back the accelerated aircraft fabricated its aboriginal flight. In that test, the WaveRider sped westward for about 143 abnormal at 3,500 mph afore coast into the ocean, as planned.

But in addition WaveRider flight in June 2011, a blooper in airflow to the jet agent acquired a abortive shutdown.

In the analysis that took abode Tuesday, a B-52 took off from Edwards Air Force Base and flew to 50,000 anxiety abreast Point Mugu. Once there, the B-52 alone the aircraft and it fell like a bomb for about four abnormal afore its booster rocket agent afire and propelled the aircraft.

It was again declared to abstracted from the rocket and acceleration beyond the sky, powered by the air-breathing hypersonic engine, but the ascendancy fin affair acquired it to fail. (See how it's advised to assignment in the video below.)

The Air Force said that "program admiral will now activate the action of alive through a accurate appraisal to actuate the exact account of all factors at play."

The WaveRider affairs is estimated to amount $140 million, according to, a website for aggressive action research. Assignment on the aircraft was done by Boeing Co.'s analysis centermost in Huntington Beach and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne in Canoga Park.

One of the four WaveRider aircraft remains. But admiral accept not absitively back -- or if -- that agent will fly.

Aerospace engineers say that harnessing technology able of comestible hypersonic speeds -- activity bristles times the acceleration of complete or added -- is acute to the abutting bearing of missiles, aggressive aircraft, aircraft -- and alike commuter planes.

But engineers accept been aggravating to sustain hypersonic flight back the 1960s, and accept angry out few absolute results.

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