Hold on to your hats, as this is going to go fast. Although you’re probably better off holding onto your face too, since this scramjet-powered, experimental aircraft can hit up to 4,500mph in a few seconds and jet to New York from London in just an hour. Whoa.
It looks like something straight out of science fiction, yet it could be the future of long haul flights as it’s well, pretty darn fast. Tomorrow marks when the jet is going to be dropped from a B52 bomber in the latest test for the craft, dubbed the X-51A WaveRider, which is currently being prepped in the Mojave Desert at Edwards Air Force Base.
The test involves the WaveRider being attached to a B52, which is then flown to above 50,000 feet (15,000 metres) over the Pacific Ocean, where it will then be dropped and its engines fired. While the entire mission will only last for a rather paltry 300 seconds, it will be the longest the craft has actually flown so far.
During the test, the craft is expected to hit around Mach 6 while it climbs to nearly 70,000 feet (21,000 metres). After those 300 seconds, the WaveRider is set to break apart into the ocean as planned, although there are no plans to recover the debris.
Funded by NASA and the Pentagon, and costing around $135 million, I think it’s safe to say I’ll pass on buying one for now, but I’ll gleefully wait a few years until hypersonic flight is a bit more mainstream. [Daily Mail]
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