One Shot This Year

According to a May 20 Boeing release, the planned May 25 test flight of the X-51A will be the only hypersonic flight attempt this year because of high-demand for test assets like the B-52 that will carry the vehicle aloft over the Pacific from Edwards AFB, Calif. the X-51A, a collaboration by Boeing, the Air Force Research Lab, and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, is expected to reach Mach 6 over a five-minute autonomous flight before it crashes into the Pacific. “In those 300 seconds, we hope to learn more about hypersonic flight with a practical scramjet engine than all previous flight tests combined,” said Charlie Brink, AFRL’s X-51A program manager. Boeing’s Alex Lopez said that if the test “meets even a subset of our expectations, the leap in engine technology will be equivalent to the post-World War II leap from propellers to jet engines.”