Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Scramjet!

First flight of the X-51A scramjet demonstrator is now on track for early December while captive carriage tests on the NASA-operated B-52H mothership at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., are set to begin in October.

A joint effort by the U.S. Air Force, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, and Boeing, the hypersonic vehicle is designed to be the first air-breathing craft to demonstrate sustained speeds in excess of Mach 4 using a “logistically friendly” hydrocarbon fuel.

(via Aviation Week)

Needs a boost from a rocket stage to get going, way too slow to achieve low Earth orbit, and probably going to be used for long-range cruise missiles or something equally gung-ho but it's a start . . .

5 Comments:

Blogger saint said...

Americans spend a whole lot of money on 'killing people technology.'

I'd like to see a fraction of this budget. I could live the rest of my life off a small piece of what is spent annually in our 'killing people technology' budget.

August 05, 2009 9:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@saint

Not just the United States spending money on 'killing people.'

Europe, Russia, India, Pakistan, Israel, China, Korea, Japan -- they're all spending money on potentially homicidal technology.

But it's not the technology that kills, as you're no doubt aware. People kill other people.

August 06, 2009 2:39 AM  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

I live with the forlorn and somewhat foolish hope that swords like this will one day be beaten into ploughshares.

August 06, 2009 4:14 PM  
Blogger ~M said...

Is there a specific word for that particular brand of glum optimism that seems to infect so many of us science junkies?

August 07, 2009 10:02 AM  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

The Germans probably have some long compound word for it.

Weltzukünftigeverlassenehoffnung or something similar.

August 07, 2009 10:23 AM  

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