Boeing X-51, the plane reached Mach 6 hypersonic
During the Second World War , aircraft attended a major technological change through the use of reactors and therefore making the first jet aircraft (like the Messerschmitt Me 262 German). Thereafter, the speed of the aircraft rising to meet the so-called sound barrier (or Mach 1), ie speeds that would exceed the 340 meters per second. Many of the fighter jets that we know (like the F-18) overcome this barrier and legendary aircraft as the SR-71 Blackbird and the Lockheed U-2 could triple this speed (reaching values close to Mach 3). In recent years, Boeing has been developing with DARPA , the U.S. Air Force , NASA and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne X-51 aircraft, a drone that in its latest tests, reached a speed of Mach 6 ( ie 6 times exceeded the sound barrier).
The Boeing X-51 is a hypersonic aircraft with which America aspires to reach Mach 7 (about 8,580 km/h) and, it seems, are on track according to data from the latest tests. The tests, which took place in the skies of the Pacific have been a real joy for the project team because made in 2011 proved a fiasco since they are not able to overcome the Mach 5.
And what can serve a plane like this? Thinking about a time when commercial aviation and the legendary Concorde (who retired from service in 2003), the X-51 is able to fly 3 times faster and, therefore, if the Concorde was capable of flying between London and New York in just 3 hours, this prototype could cover the same distance in just 1 hour.
Specifically, for these tests, the U.S. Air Force used a B-52 bomber which was coupled, in one of its wings, the plane X-51 (which is about 8 meters long and weighs about a ton). The bomber took off from Edwards AFB (California) and increased to reach 12.25 kilometers. At that time, the X-51A Waverider wing came loose, and after a 4-second free fall, burned their engines to rise up to 21.3 kilometers high and reach speeds of Mach 6.
While we are still far from the development of hypersonic commercial aircraft (EADS, the European consortium, places them in 2050 and flying at Mach 4), these tests are useful for the U.S. military for its aircraft programs and to develop a new generation of missiles and rockets (which seems to be the current focus of NASA and the Department of Defense).
Reaching Mach 6 (7300 km/h) is a breakthrough but the project still has to be done to reach 8,580 km/h that has been marked as a target.
Pictures: WikipediaTags: Aerospace, Boeing, DARPA, NASA, U.S. Air Force, X-51 Waverider