X-51 WaveRider Team Wins AIAA Foundation Award for Excellence

X-51 Waverider
X-51A WaveRider

RESTON, VA (AIAA PR)  – The X-51A WaveRider team has won the 2014 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Foundation’s Award for Excellence. The team will receive the award on April 30 at the AIAA Spotlight Awards Gala at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, in Washington, D.C.

The team is being honored “for the demonstration of the feasibility of sustained air breathing hypersonic flight by achieving a 300 second flight at Mach 5.”


X-51A to Ride the Waves Again

The fourth and final X-51A Waverider hypersonic vehicle is being prepared for a test flight set for late next spring or early summer, the U.S. Air Force announced on Wednesday. Investigators have also identified the likely cause of a failed flight two months ago.

Preliminary results from an investigation into what went wrong during the August flight indicate that a “random vibration issue” caused one of the control fins to deploy early, the X-51 program manager at the Air Force Research Laboratory, Charlie Brink, told reporters on a conference call.


X-51A Waverider Crashes Off California Coast as Control Fin Fails

The hypersonic X-51A Waverider vehicle, designed to fly at Mach 6 for five minutes, failed in flight on Tuesday due a flaw in a control fin. The U.S. Air Force has issued the following statement:

“The X-51A Waverider successfully launched from an Air Force B-52 bomber over Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range Aug. 14 at approximately 11:36 a.m. PST.

The X-51 safely separated from the B-52 and the rocket booster fired as planned. However after 16 seconds, a fault was identified with one of the cruiser control fins. Once the X-51 separated from the rocket booster, approximately 15 seconds later, the cruiser was not able to maintain control due to the faulty control fin and was lost.


Second X-51A Flight Ends Prematurely

95th Air Base Wing Public Affairs — 6/15/2011 – EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — A second test of the X-51A Waverider flew June 13, 2011, in the Point Mugu Naval Air Test Range over the Pacific Ocean, bringing significant hypersonic research data in a less than successful flight test.

The hypersonic aircraft was successfully boosted to just over Mach 5, and the scramjet engine lit but failed to transition to full power.

Air Force’s Hypersonic X-51A Set to Ride the Waves Again Next Week

X-51 Waverider

By Derek Kaufman
USAF 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

3/16/2011 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) – Air Force engineers currently plan to fly the second X-51A Waverider hypersonic flight test demonstrator as early as March 22, program officials said March 15.

“We are proud of the first flight results, and at the same time we understand the inherent risk in a high-technology demonstrator like the X-51A,” said Curtis Berger, the director of the hypersonics programs at Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, the company that built the X-51A’s fuel-cooled supersonic combustion ramjet, or scramjet engine.  “We can’t wait to get this second vehicle in the air and show what we can do.”


X-51A Team Receives Laureate Award

X-51 Waverider

AIAA PR – March 9, 2011 – Reston, Va. – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) congratulates the X-51A Waverider hypersonic vehicle team on receiving an Aviation Week & Space Technology Laureate Award March 8 at Aviation Week’s annual awards dinner. The team was honored in the Aeronautics and Propulsion category.


PopSci’s Best List includes Xombie, Falcon 9, X-37B and Waverider

X-51 Waverider

Popular Science‘s “Best of What’s New 2010” list includes four projects that we have been closely following here at Parabolic Arc:

Congratulations to all the winners!

The American Military’s Bewildering Hypersonics Effort

X-51 Waverider

Toward the end of a long article about the Pentagon’s effort to achieve Prompt Global Strike capability, reporter Sharon Weinberger looks at the military’s multiple ventures into the realm of hypersonics:

An alternative to the conventionally armed land-based ICBM is a hypersonic weapon, essentially a cruise missile capable of traveling at many times the speed of sound-faster than anything in today’s conventional arsenal. These missiles would not have to leave the Earth’s atmosphere and would have very different trajectories from ICBMs, so Russia would be less likely to mistake them for nuclear weapons.


Lockheed Rocket Motor Helped X-51 Hit Mach 5

X-51 Waverider


Lockheed Martin announced today that its Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) rocket motor successfully boosted the experimental X-51A WaveRider beyond Mach 4.5, the speed at which a scramjet will start and begin to provide thrust. The successful boost helped the X-51 hypersonic scramjet engine to accelerate to a historic Mach 5, a first for the vehicle.


Debate Over U.S. Military’s Hypersonic First-Strike Technology

Spate of Hypersonic Vehicle Tests Fuels Global Strike Debate
National Defense Magazine

The military’s reusable space plane, the X-37B, and its classified payload lifted off in April only one day after the maiden flight of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2 suborbital glider. It flew nine minutes before operators lost its signal and were forced to abort the mission.


Hypersonic Future: Superfast Weapons and Access to Space

X-51A Waverider

Air Force Sees Hypersonic Weapons and Spaceships in Future

A recent United States Air Force scramjet test has hinted at a future where hypersonic vehicles streak through the sky at many times the speed of sound around the world, and perhaps even open up access to space.

The experimental X-51A Waverider used a rocket booster and an air-breathing scramjet to reach a speed of Mach 5 and achieve the longest hypersonic flight ever powered by such an engine on May 26. That technology might not only deliver cargo quickly to different parts of the globe, but could also transform the space industry and spawn true space planes that take off and land from the same runway.

The wealth of possibilities offered by aerospace vehicles that can ride their own shockwaves likely explains why the project has drawn support from the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), NASA, and the U.S. Navy.

“We could have in the future such things as hypersonic weapons that fly 600 nautical miles in 10 minutes,” said Charlie Brink, X-51A program manager with the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, during a June 1 teleconference.

Read the full story.

Video: X-51A Waverider Goes Hypersonic Over the Pacific

(AFNS) An X-51A Waverider flight-test vehicle successfully made the longest supersonic combustion ramjet-powered hypersonic flight May 26 off the southern California Pacific coast.

The more than 200 second burn by the X-51’s Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne-built air breathing scramjet engine accelerated the vehicle to Mach 6. The previous longest scramjet burn in a flight test was 12 seconds in a NASA X-43.


X-51A Waverider Hypersonic Flight Delayed

X-51 Waverider

(AFNS) The scheduled May 25 launch of the X-51A Waverider hypersonic flight test vehicle has been postponed 24 hours. The delay was due to the presence of a freighter transiting in a section of the Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range several hundred miles off the California coast.


U.S. Military Sees X-51 as the Wave(rider) of the Future

X-51 Waverider

Over at Spaceflight Now, Craig Covault has a detailed story about the military’s X-51 hypersonic vehicle, which is set to take its first test flight next week. The test is a precursor to what officials hope will be an entirely new way to send payloads into space:

The first hypersonic X-51 scramjet powered long-duration flights to give the Pentagon a new “Prompt Global Strike” capability that ties atmospheric and space propulsion will begin as early as May 25 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The X-vehicle scramjet flight tests are also a key step for the use of air breathing propulsion to launch into space.


X-51A Hypersonic Vehicle Set for Flights at End of May

X-51 Waverider

Scramjet with stamina ready for hypersonic test

In the last week of May, thousands of square miles of airspace above the Pacific Ocean will be cleared to make way for a skinny, shark-nosed aircraft called the X-51.

The 4-metre-long prototype will drop from beneath the wing of a bomber and attempt to become the first scramjet to punch through the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds for minutes, not seconds.