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Published on May 20, 2010
The US Air Force Research Laboratory plans to launch the Boeing X-51A WaveRider hypersonic demonstrator on its first test flight on May 25, 2010. The X-51A is powered by a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne hydrocarbon-fuelled scramjet. The vehicle is to be dropped from its B-52 mothership off the California coast at about 50,000ft and accelerated to around Mach 4.5 by a rocket booster. The booster will then separate and the scramjet ignite to accelerate the cruiser to beyond Mach 6. The fuel-cooled scramjet is designed to run for about 5min, after which the X-51A will splash down in the Pacific. Video animation by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.