The X-51A "Waverider" scramjet will fly at last next Tuesday, it has been announced. It had been expected that the radical engine - capable of Mach 6 velocities while running on fairly ordinary jet fuel - would fly last December, but budgetary and scheduling difficulties have delayed the project. The X-51A is being run by the …
"delays to the project had resulted from budgetary and scheduling problems - in particular the difficulty of getting a time slot on the Pacific range ".
I wonder what the Range Warden is like at that one? Probably still moaning about litter and target holes left unpatched for the next users...?!
(military joke alert) I wouldn't want to be the Butt Party either ;)
Takeoffs with a turbojet?
That should bring airport noise levels back to the 1970s in a hurry...
"... a booking of NASA's B-52."
Obviously NASA should develop a nuke, attach it to their B-52 and extort $20 biiiillion from the US govt. Then they'd finally have the funding they deserve!
Propulsion system of the future.
Always has been, always will be.
As for air breathing SSTO.
Why the f*ck aren't they going to recover it instead of letting it drop into the ocean. I thought there were international treatise on polluting the Worlds oceans.
Missing the point
"How about some technology to point the damn thing in roughly the right direction first?"
Targeting technology is pretty good already. Target designation is where the mistakes occur.
I'd have thought the possibility of it being made into a, near impossible to intercept, hypersonic missile far more of a reason to recover it than worrying too much about pollution.
Well you see it's like this......
From what I have seen and understood these planes to be made of - is big wedge shaped pieces of heat resistant metals - usually titanium, and very little else; in the sense that they are much like an oddly shaped fuel tank....
Once that has gone to Mach 6 + the heat of friction in the air and all that, tends to root the said protoype, and as the onboard instruments measure everything they are supposed to, and sent the data back for analysis, what remains to be rescued is much like a formerly very pricey piece of sheet metal panels - that may not in fact be worth rescuing.
And as we all know, it's been proven that deep sea fish have a deficiency of titanum.
So it's a win win situation.
ping ping ping
I bet there will be plenty of subs trying to home in on the splash it makes when it hits and sinks.
I don't mean American subs.
They should put a little secret compartment on it and fill it with dogshit. I can see a Chinese engineering team trying to determine its purpose. Comedy gold.
Anyhow, I hope it goes well. Neat stuff.
Plus a camera
They could put a little secret compartment, but then they'd need some sort of camera to make it worthwhile - and they don't have the budget for that.
No ordinary turbojet?
Lewis writes: "Ordinary turbojets are limited to around Mach 2.5 in normal use, though they can beat Mach 3 if the user doesn't mind replacing them afterwards."
True for almost all turbojet aircraft, but don't forget Kelly Johnson's SR-71, a.k.a. Blackbird: officially Mach 3.2+, which most definitely did not require new engines (J58s) after each flight. To be fair to Lewis, Kelly's design cleverly bypassed the majority of the airflow at the higher speeds, reintroducing it into the afterburner stage (i.e. at higher speeds it was mostly working as a ramjet!). In short, Mach 3 and above can be achieved with traditional turbojets, but it is very tricky to do properly (plenty of documented history exists on the design and operational challenges of this aircraft, majority of which surrounds how the engines behaved at supersonic speeds.)
One interesting point to note is that fuel consumption (expressed as fuel used/distance covered) improved with the higher speeds. I have attended a lecture by a former Blackbird pilot who claimed that if they were running short of fuel, e.g. due to extra in-flight manoeuvering, they would accelerate the aircraft to ensure a safe return (and get back sooner to boot!)
I suppose similar consumption figures must apply for scramjets...
Where this technology is beneficial
Scramjets stall very easily and need a high starting speed
This technology is useful for higher velocity cruise missiles and longer range conventional air/air, air/ground missiles
But for space use its pointless as you end up with 3-4 different types of engines to get you into orbit which limits the possibility for SSTO
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