[AlaskaRC] We Did it...

Steven Lingle barisax at olypen.com
Tue Jun 1 07:41:05 AKDT 2010

Steven Lingle
barisax at olypen.com

> Sent: Thursday, May 27, 2010 7:05 AM...
> Success!
> In its first flight attempt, the Boeing-built X-51A WaveRider successfully
> completed the longest supersonic combustion ramjet-powered flight in history
> on Wednesday. The unmanned aerial vehicle was released from a U.S. Air Force
> B-52H bomber off the Southern California coast.
> Although the results are preliminary, the X-51A flew autonomously for more
> than 200 seconds in a vehicle built by Boeing and powered by a Pratt &
> Whitney Rocketdyne supersonic combustion ramjet (scramjet) motor. It
> accelerated to approximately Mach 5, and transmitted large amounts of data
> to ground stations. After 200 seconds, something occurred that caused the
> vehicle to lose acceleration. At that point, the X-51A was terminated as
> planned.
> Although the vehicle did not reach Mach 6 or fly 500 seconds, the X-51A team
> considers the flight a success. Three additional vehicles have been built
> and will be tested.
> "The technology proven today is something The Boeing Company has worked on
> for the past seven years," said Alex Lopez, vice president of Advanced
> Network & Space Systems, a division of Boeing Phantom Works. "It is
> thrilling to be a part of history and advance hypersonic science to the next
> level. Boeing is looking forward to transitioning the technology to
> operation in the near term, but for now, we are exhilarated."
> "We are ecstatic to have accomplished many of the X-51A test points during
> its first hypersonic mission," said Charlie Brink, X-51A program manager
> with the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,
> Ohio. "This gives us huge confidence. We built four test vehicles to get a
> successful flight and we hit many of our goals right out of the gate the
> first time around."
> The X-51A was carried under the left wing of an Air Force Flight Test Center
> B-52H Stratofortress that took off from Edwards Air Force Base. It was
> released while flying at ~50,000 feet over the Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare
> Center Sea Range. Four seconds later, a solid rocket booster from a U.S.
> Army tactical missile accelerated the X-51A to about Mach 4.5 before it and
> a connecting interstage were jettisoned. The X-51A's engine ignited on a mix
> of ethylene and JP-7 jet fuel. After a short period, the X-51A ran
> exclusively on JP-7 jet fuel. The flight reached an altitude of about 70,000
> feet and a peak speed of approximately Mach 5.
> Onboard sensors transmitted data to both an airborne U.S. Navy P-3 Orion and
> to ground systems at Point Mugu, Edwards, and Vandenberg Air Force Base,
> before the cruiser was terminated after losing telemetry. The team even
> successfully tested out the termination system.
> "This is a new world record and sets the foundation for several hypersonic
> applications, including access to space, reconnaissance, strike, global
> reach and commercial transportation," said Joe Vogel, Boeing director of
> Hypersonics and X-51A program manager.
> The Boeing team left the Ridley Control Center at Edwards Air Force Base
> after the test, high-fiving each other. "We did it," echoed a number of
> engineers who whopped and hollered outside the building.
> Boeing Phantom Works, a division of Boeing Defense, Space & Security,
> performed the overall air vehicle design, assembly and testing for the
> X-51A's various components. The X-51A program is a collaborative effort of
> the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Defense Advanced Research Projects
> Agency, with industry partners Boeing and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.
> Program officials noted that while development of the vehicle's engine and
> the test program are complex, controlling costs has been a key objective.
> The team has adapted existing proven technologies, and elected not to build
> recovery systems into the flight test vehicles, in an effort to control
> costs. Data will be reviewed before any additional flights will be
> scheduled.
> "I have been working on this project for seven years," said a Boeing
> engineer, fumbling as he tried to dial out on a Blackberry phone. "I am so
> excited, I can't even remember the number I'm dialing. We did something no
> one else has ever done before -- it doesn't get any better than that."

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