Video-The X-51 Scramjet-LA to NYC in 45 minutes! And Russian Scramjet

Posted on July 20, 2010


It’s called X-51 Waverider…a creation of Boeing and Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne. May It has completed the longest hypersonic combustion (scramjet) powered flight in aviation history, reaching a speed of about Mach five, or five times the speed of sound. The Russian scramjet video is also shown.

A scramjet engine is often likened to an air-breathing engine…it has no moving parts, and sucks in air from the atmosphere, rather than using oxidizers or additional fuel. It is new technology engineers say will allow aircraft to fly faster and farther while using less overall fuel.

Officials from Boeing and Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne say the future applications are beyond exciting.  They range from high speed military operations, commercial flights and improved access to space.  Engineers envision cross-country flights from Los Angeles to New York in a mere 45 minutes, and eventually an easier, cheaper and faster method of carrying payloads to and from the space station.

The reality is, this is not happening tomorrow.  Getting the Waverider to fly right now involves launching it with a rocket from a specially outfitted B-52.  During the test in May, it flew for a total of 200 seconds before breaking up.  Impressive, to say the least, but still a ways away from carrying passengers across the country.  

Even still the folks involved in the project are jubilant about their successes.  They compare this leap in technology to the jump from the propeller to the jet engine.  In fact, the mood over the X-51 is being compared in some respects to the Apollo moon missions in the 1960’s. 

Just like then, engineers and scientists behind the Waverider hope this project will be one the country can also rally around and feel proud of.

Perhaps it will even “excite our students to go back into math and science,” says Boeing’s Program Manager, Joe Vogel. “We’re falling behind in that part of the curriculum.”

And, says Vogel, this is an area where the U.S. can be a world leader.  “It’s a technology that we can own first before anybody else. EXCEPT for the Russians, See below.


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