An unmanned hypersonic aircraft labeled, the X-51 Scramjet WaveRider designed by the Boeing Company, was scheduled for another test flight today. Today's test flight was to originate out of Edwards Air Force Base California late this morning, and conclude out over the pacific ocean. As of tonight the test results are being kept in tight secrecy by all involved. The X-51 in hyper flight rides on its own shock wave, thus the term WaveRider was added to it's name.
The X-51 WaveRider uses a new engine technology which is called a scramjet and will thrust the unmanned aircraft to reach self sustained speeds of over mach 6 and 3,600 to over 4,000 mph. for relatively short periods of time. To put that kind of speed into perspective, the X-51 could fly from New York to London in under 45 minutes. The design of the scramjet engine only allows it to start at supersonic speeds, and for this reason the X-51 must be airlifted and launched at 50,000 feet from a B-52 bomber. When the X-51 is launched from the B-52, a rocket booster connected to the hypersonic aircraft is ignited, and thrusts the X-51 WaveRider to the required supersonic speed needed to start it's scramjet engine. First tested in May of 2010, the X-51 was able to reach over mach 5, and run self sustained for 200 seconds. Today's test was expected to attain a speed over 3,600 mph and run self sustained for 5 minutes.
Boeing has had a facility in Wichita, Kansas since it bought the Stearman Aircraft Co. in 1929. Boeing has helped Wichita become known as the Air Capital of the World and will be leaving. The aircraft manufacturer, and X-51 designer said it will close its sprawling facilities in south Wichita, Kansas by the end of 2013. The decision ends Boeing’s 85 year history with the city and affects 2,160 workers in Wichita, their families and the community.