The X-51 Waverider Aircraft Ready For Hypersonic Action

Remember the fiery X-51's scramjet test that looked like hell? This is the final aircraft - the Waverider - ready for its maiden flight. It'll fly at Mach 6 for 300 seconds. So fast that its nose will reach temperatures of 1480C.

Developed by Boeing Defence, Space & Security Systems for the Air Force Research Laboratory and Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, Waverider is designed as the test bed for future aeroplanes and missiles that would reach Mach 25. It will be the first aircraft of its kind to fly at hypersonic speeds for such a long time. Before, similar planes only managed to get 10 seconds of actual flight time. The original maiden flight was scheduled to take place in March, but now it will happen at the end of May.

Here's how it will work: After dropping from a B-52, a rocket stage will boost the scramjet to 4.7 times the speed of sound. At that time, the Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne will breath air at the necessary speed to ignite, pushing it to Mach 6 (7400km/h). And the best thing is that, if everything goes right, they would be able to recover the entire engine and reuse it again. [News Scientist]

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