X-43A Hypersonic Scramjet Flight
Mach 7 2004 NASA
Highlights from the second and third test flight of the X-43A hypersonic aircraft.
Note: in the third flight test the speeds of Mach 10 (7,310 mph) were achieved by the X-43 hypersonic aircraft.
The X-43 is an unmanned experimental hypersonic aircraft with multiple planned scale variations meant to test various aspects of hypersonic flight. It was part of NASA's Hyper-X program and has set several airspeed records for jet-propelled aircraft. The X-43 is the fastest aircraft on record at approx. 7000 miles per hour (10,461 km/h).
The initial version, e 2001 failed when the stack spun out of control about 11 seconds after the drop from the B-52 carrier plane. It was destroyed by the Range Safety Officer and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. NASA attributed the crash to several inaccuracies in data modeling for this test, which led to an inadequate control system for the particular Pegasus rocket used. The X-43A's second flight was successful when it became the fastest free flying air-breathing aircraft in the world. The third flight of the X-43A set a new speed record of 10,617 km/h (6,598 mph), or Mach 9.65 at 33,528 meters (110,000 ft), on November 16, 2004. It was boosted by a modified Pegasus rocket which was launched from a B-52 mother ship at an altitude of 13,157 meters (43,166 ft). After 10 seconds of free flight, the spacecraft made a planned crash into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California. This X-plane series of aircraft was replaced by the X-51.
The X-43 was part of NASA's Hyper-X program.
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