The official test results for the Boeing designed X-51 WaveRider tested yesterday are now in and reported. Failure is the title of the results as the X-51 suffered a catastrophic failure of a vertical fin before the hypersonic scramjet could be ignited causing it to break apart over the pacific ocean.
“It is unfortunate that a problem with this subsystem caused a termination before we could light the scramjet engine,” Charlie Brink of the Air Force Research Laboratory at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, said in a statement.
During it's first flight in 2010 the X-51 scramjet reached 5 times the speed of sound in 3 minutes. A second flight last year ended in failure as the scramjet tried to light its engine unsuccessfully until it crashed into the ocean. There is now only one X-51 WaveRider test aircraft left and the Air Force is not saying if the last X-51 will fly or not at this time.
In yesterday's test, the X-51 launched from the B-52 without a problem, and the booster rocket propelled it to the proper speed needed for ignition of the scramjet engine, then 15 seconds after the booster rocket separated from the WaveRider it went out of control and crashed into the water.
The X-51 was designed and built by Boeing which has a manufacturing facility located in Wichita, Kansas which it has reported it will close next year.