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New York to London in an hour?

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New York to London in an hour?

Postby Charles » Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:49 am

It could happen with scramjet technology...

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Scramjet.jpg

Will a New Hypersonic Aircraft Really Let Us Fly from New York to London in an Hour?

By Daniel Lametti
Aug. 14, 2012

There’s nothing worse than a long flight. Perhaps that’s why the Internet was filled this morning with reports that the United States Air Force was testing an experimental plane that could, in theory, fly from New York to London in about an hour. (According to the Washington Post, the test flight did indeed take place Tuesday, but there’s been no word yet on the results.)

The X-51A Waverider uses a special scramjet engine to propel it to five times the speed of sound—that’s hypersonic speed, or more than 3500 miles per hour. Scramjet stands for supersonic combustion ramjet. Simply put, rapidly moving air is funneled into an engine, mixed with fuel, and ignited to produce thrust. (A conventional jet engine needs the help of heavy compressors and turbines to achieve the same result.) In a ramjet, the air inside the engine is typical moving at subsonic speeds when it’s ignited; in a scramjet, the air inside the engine is lit at supersonic speeds. This makes scramjets more efficient while increasing thrust.

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Re: New York to London in an hour?

Postby Charles » Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:40 pm

Well, the scramjet X-51 WaveRider didn't quite make it in its first test flight. It'll take a little longer to get to London for now...

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Hypersonic craft lost during test
By Alan Boyle
August 15 2012

The U.S. Air Force says its most ambitious test of its X-51 WaveRider hypersonic aircraft ended in failure less than a minute after launch on Tuesday, due to a flaw in one of the craft's control fins. The X-51 broke apart after it was dropped from a B-52 bomber, with pieces falling into the Pacific Ocean, a spokesman for the project told me today.

If the test had proceeded as planned, the Boeing-built X-51 would have shot through the sky for a five-minute flight at a speed of up to 3,600 mph (5,800 kilometers per hour), or six times the speed of sound. Instead, the Air Force is going back to the drawing board.

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