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Mach 6 Test Aircraft Set For Trials

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the fly-her-apart-then dept.

The Military 131

coondoggie writes "The aspiration that jets may someday fly at over six times the speed of sound took a very real step toward reality recently, as the US Air Force said it successfully married the test aircraft, known as the X-51A WaveRider, to a B-52 in preparation for a Dec. 2 flight test. The X-51A flight tests are intended to demonstrate that the engines can achieve their desired speed without disintegrating. While the X-51 looks like a large rocket now, its applications could change the way aircraft or spaceships are designed, fly into space, support reconnaissance missions and handle long-distance flight operations. At the heart of the test is the aircraft's air-breathing hypersonic scramjet system."

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How to tell that a user is an IDIOT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29323861)

A new version of the software they use with small interface changes requires RETRAINING COSTS. Instead of requiring the user to spend about five minutes poking around the new interface to learn what the difference is between it and the old interface. That's because smart people actually understand what they are doing, while idiots just memorize a series of steps to create the appearance that they understand anything. Oh yeah, first post.

Hmmm... (4, Insightful)

voss (52565) | about 5 years ago | (#29323931)

Engines reaching desired speed without disintegrating....thats a GOOD feature to have.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

Cormophyte (1318065) | about 5 years ago | (#29324045)

Only if you want the chimp to survive. Some stories unfold when man and ape work in close quarters that just shouldn't be allowed to be told.

Rockets vs Scramjets (4, Interesting)

sanman2 (928866) | about 5 years ago | (#29324099)

Rocket supporters say that it's better to clear the atmosphere asap, and accelerate cleanly in a frictionless environment. Scramjet supporters say it's better to accelerate inside the atmosphere as much as possible to exploit its available oxygen, rather than carrying it as extra weight.

Which costs more energy - carrying the extra O2, or overcoming the friction from having to accelerate in an atmosphere? Which imposes more design compromises?

Which would be more economical in the long run? Bear in mind that there are 2 kinds of people that need to achieve very high velocities -- astronauts trying to make orbit and intercontinental travelers trying to get to the other side of the world.

Re:Rockets vs Scramjets (2, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 5 years ago | (#29324145)

Which would be more economical in the long run?

Depends almost entirely on how fast you can get on scramjets. I don't think Mach six is enough to make it worth the bother. But I'm pretty sure Mach twelve would be enough to make it worthwhile.

Re:Rockets vs Scramjets (1)

TheLink (130905) | about 5 years ago | (#29324343)

For short trips e.g. New York to London it's not worth it whether it's Mach 6 or Mach 12 - the gains you have would be overshadowed by the hours you spend getting to/fro the airport and getting through the airport to/fro the plane. For longer trips yes - e.g. New York to Singapore, or London to Auckland. On the bright side maybe if your luggage ends up on the wrong flight (to Hawaii?) it won't take as long for them to get it back to you.

Seriously though, when you talk about economical - you have to ask how much fuel it uses. Whether scramjet or rocket, if both use way too much fuel, there won't be an "Economy Class" ticket ;).

Re:Rockets vs Scramjets (1)

wisdom_brewing (557753) | about 5 years ago | (#29325009)

How do you define "economy"?

Isn't it all relative?

Compare a bus ticket, to a plane ticket, to a cruise ticket...

Re:Rockets vs Scramjets (2, Interesting)

HiThere (15173) | about 5 years ago | (#29326391)

It's worth remembering that Mach numbers are dependent on the current speed of sound.

If a scramjet can reach over 7 miles/second in the very upper stratosphere, then the scramjet would clearly win....at least if it didn't need the same G forces as the rocket. And particularly if it could carry a sizable cargo. (I.e., anything better than an Apollo capsule, but the larger the better.)

A scramjet might make an admirable second stage for a rocket, but then you need a first stage to get it up to speed. Note that these first two stages are airplanes, and are expected to be built to be re-useable.

There's a bit of a question as to how feasible this is, however, given that this little test plane requires a B-52 to launch it.

Re:Rockets vs Scramjets (2, Insightful)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 5 years ago | (#29326893)

The problem with using scramjets is that you need another engine for liftoff, and yet another engine for space travel (scramjets are made for travelling inside the atmosphere at only startup at a certain Mach number). With a rocket engine you only need *one* engine to go for zero velocity to space. In other summary, scramjets make no sense for space travel.

Scramjets would be nice for a high speed reconaissance platform or bomber though.

Re:Rockets vs Scramjets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29327331)

Yeah, NOBODY would ever think of the dumb idea of using 1 or more jets attached to one vehicle to lift and drop another vehicle with a rocket.

Re:Rockets vs Scramjets (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 5 years ago | (#29327399)

Yet, for some unfathomable reason, none of the commercial geostationary satellites are launched in this fashion. SpaceShipOne and Pegasus are the only things launched in this fashion and they have miserable payload. Good luck developing your three stage to orbit vehicle using scramjets.

Re:Rockets vs Scramjets (1)

Kagura (843695) | about 5 years ago | (#29327757)

He's making fun of you because it sounds like you just came up with the idea for multi-stage rockets and you act like scientists never considered them.

Re:Rockets vs Scramjets (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | about 5 years ago | (#29324737)

You start to answer your own question with the "two kinds of people" statement. Rocket supporters and scramjet supporters, whatever those are, might take up the cause of a particular vehicle. But the point is not to use a particular vehicle, it's to get something done using the most effective and efficient vehicle available.

You start with your goal, develop flight profiles for the available vehicles, add in ground support and maintenance costs, and calculate your costs/benefits.

There are more than "2 kinds of people" -- actually goals to accomplish and flight profiles that can be used. Suborbitals: rapid deployment air to ground, air to air and air to space weapons platform; critical cargo delivery; recon. Orbital: supply, including immediate need repair supply, to orbital craft/stations; debris sweeping ahead of a sensitive craft or mission. Extra-orbital: lunar insertion; placement of probes such as solar weather into Earth/Sun LaGrange points; interplanetary delivery. All of these can be expanded greatly.

All other things being equal, a reusable booster with a delivery system fired from high speed and altitude would probably end up being very, if not most, economical in most cases. That would make 'both' a good answer.

For the most part, 'people' will have little to do with it. It'll be a long time before there's a human rated scramjet vehicle, and then it'll probably be of the two stage nature mentioned. The energy necessary for a given velocity/trajectory grows faster than the vehicle cross section. Something big enough to carry passengers would require more fuel than it could carry.

Re:Rockets vs Scramjets (1)

sirrunsalot (1575073) | about 5 years ago | (#29324775)

Which costs more energy - carrying the extra O2, or overcoming the friction from having to accelerate in an atmosphere? Which imposes more design compromises?

Seems the best answer is likely somewhere between the two. I mean the idea behind scramjets is only to get you through part of the journey anyway. You'll still need a running start, and you'll still need to carry oxygen to get you up into space.

Which would be more economical in the long run? Bear in mind that there are 2 kinds of people that need to achieve very high velocities -- astronauts trying to make orbit and intercontinental travelers trying to get to the other side of the world.

What about people trying to get a few kilometers downrange and get blown to smithereens the other end? Missiles are people too, y'know.

Re:Hmmm... (3, Funny)

KangKong (937247) | about 5 years ago | (#29324053)

Nice to be the test pilot. "Increase the speed to mach 6, we're just gonna check that the engines don't disintegrate."

Re:Hmmm... (2, Interesting)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 5 years ago | (#29324133)

The biggest problem for general use is to achieve speeds above about Mach 3.5.

This was roughly the maximum speed for the SR-71 and the problem was the friction heat from the air. And the SR-71 had a hull of Titanium. The Concorde did achieve about Mach 2 and had a hull from Aluminum. So for commercial use it's probably not practical to exceed the speed of the Concorde. What has to be done for commercial use is to get a more economic version and a version that has a less annoying sound bang.

But there is a use for faster vessels and that is to decrease the amount of fuel needed for putting a vessel into orbit by using the air in the atmosphere. And other uses are of course military use allowing for rapid strikes from long distance.

Titanium may well get cheaper (5, Interesting)

PeterM from Berkeley (15510) | about 5 years ago | (#29324159)

Recent advances [technologyreview.com] in the production of titanium may bring this metal into wide use in airframes. And everything else.

Re:Titanium may well get cheaper (0)

dpilot (134227) | about 5 years ago | (#29325809)

How much titanium is there, laying around, if the demand would suddenly start to rise?

How much of that titanium is locked up by China, who has seen for some time that strategic metals will become a growth limiter in the not-so-distant future?

Re:Titanium may well get cheaper (1)

modecx (130548) | about 5 years ago | (#29326043)

How much titanium is there, laying around, if the demand would suddenly start to rise?

How much of that titanium is locked up by China, who has seen for some time that strategic metals will become a growth limiter in the not-so-distant future?

A lot. It's pretty abundant, actually. It's just that with current processes, it's goddamn expensive to produce, uses large amounts of chlorine and energy, etc... That's the only practical reason for its rarity as a structural material.

AFAIK, China doesn't produce a significant amount of the requisite ores, or finished metal product for that matter. Most of the ore, by the way, gets processed into titanium dioxide, a very common white pigment which is used in Everything.

Re:Titanium may well get cheaper (1)

dpilot (134227) | about 5 years ago | (#29326345)

I thought about white pigment a few minutes after posting.

As for China, I said "locking up", because they're investing heavily in Africa, for instance. The stuff they want may not be on their territory, but they're very present in places where those things are.

Now that I actually take a look, Titanium is 22 and Iron is 26, and the contentious Lanthanoids are 57-71. (No doubt higher stuff will be scarcer.)

Re:Titanium may well get cheaper (1)

modecx (130548) | about 5 years ago | (#29326613)

They're present alright, but even discounting the whole continent of Africa, there's almost cerianly enough to keep the rest of the free world humping along, elsewhere. Oil or copper will be much more immediately contentious of a resource, all other things considered.

When or if it becomes more economically viable (profitable), Ti mines will certainly start up.

Re:Titanium may well get cheaper (3, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | about 5 years ago | (#29327463)

Actually, China is trying hard to lock up LOADS of resources all over the world, but the biggies are Rare Earth minerals as well as Uranium. This last week, they quit exports of a select group of REMs that they have control of, and others that they do not have total control of, they dropped the possible exports. At this very moment, Australia is deciding whether to sell them several of their mines. Hopefully they do not as they are REM mines and will be needed by the entire rest of the world. These minerals are concerned with making permanent magnet motors that are going into Electric Cars as well as are used in nearly all electronics.

Re:Titanium may well get cheaper (2, Informative)

greyhueofdoubt (1159527) | about 5 years ago | (#29326817)

Ti is the 9th most abundant element in the crust (7th most abundant metal).

The wiki page answers all your questions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanium [wikipedia.org]

Ti is abundant enough that we use it in toothpaste and toilet cleaner; I don't think you need to worry about it going anywhere.

-b

Re:Titanium may well get cheaper (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 5 years ago | (#29326977)

There is a lot of titanium. Titanium oxide is used as the pigment for white paint. If you ever tried buying paint, you probably realized white paint is usually cheapest. So there.

The issue is how do you turn titanium oxide into pure titanium. This process seems somewhat similar to the Fray-Farthing-Chen process. Then again I remember that used to be a hot topic at the time, but it never got to production.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about 5 years ago | (#29324555)

Engines reaching desired speed without disintegrating....thats a GOOD feature to have.

Kids these days. Back in my days ... never mind.

Isn't that the definition of an engine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29323961)

If you can achieve your desired speed without disintegrating, you got a engine.

If you can achieve your desired speed while disintegrating, you got a rocket.

With lube strip (5, Funny)

imashination (840740) | about 5 years ago | (#29324027)

Mach 6, how blades is that?

Re:With lube strip (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324819)

Many

Re:With lube strip (3, Funny)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | about 5 years ago | (#29325973)

Fuck everything, we're doing 10 blades.

"the aircraft's air-breathing hypersonic scramjet" (4, Funny)

MRe_nl (306212) | about 5 years ago | (#29324093)

WHOOOSH!

(ducks)

Re:"the aircraft's air-breathing hypersonic scramj (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29325569)

...which raises the question: can a scramjet survive ducks any better than a jet engine?

Re:"the aircraft's air-breathing hypersonic scramj (1)

Kreigaffe (765218) | about 5 years ago | (#29327259)

Actually I've heard that they're supposed to be more resilient than jet engines, because they don't have all those tiny little rapidly-spinning compressor blades. The compression is accomplished just from the pressure of the incoming air, the shape of the scramjet, and the combustion of the fuel (and doesnt it combust due to the high pressure / hence heat?)

I dunno. I've not looked into them for a while now and I'm not an experimental-propulsion-systems-making-dude, so I may be a bit off, but it's my understanding that ram and scramjets should be less vulnerable to ducks.

Re:"the aircraft's air-breathing hypersonic scramj (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | about 5 years ago | (#29328227)

If hit just the right way, I think it will result in a duck being flung into space.

Re:"the aircraft's air-breathing hypersonic scramj (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29325817)

It's hypersonic. If you hear the WOOOSH, it's too late to duck.

It's a cruise missle (1)

wigaloo (897600) | about 5 years ago | (#29324101)

This appears to be more about the development of a hypersonic cruise missile [popularmechanics.com] than an actual aircraft.

Not for aircraft. (2, Funny)

Stan Vassilev (939229) | about 5 years ago | (#29324149)

While the X-51 looks like a large rocket now, its applications could change the way aircraft or spaceships are designed, fly into space, support reconnaissance missions and handle long-distance flight operations.

The Concorde flew at 2.2 Mach and in order to achieve this, it ended up too expensive to create, manufacture and maintain. It would be awkward to see airlines adopt airplanes which are more expensive to fly than current models. The trend is towards less fuel usage, and cheaper flight, in fact, at the expense of speed at times. On the other hand I'm happy to see that US is working heavily on creating a replacement for F-22, an insanely expensive jet with a nearly 30 year history that was barely ever used for something at all, before being discontinued :P...

Re:Not for aircraft. (3, Interesting)

maeka (518272) | about 5 years ago | (#29324235)

When calling the Concorde (or any other aircraft) "too expensive to create, manufacture, and maintain." on needs to take into account the ticket price the market will bear.
Since the Concorde was not designed with a range suitable for flying the Pacific routes, it was forced to try to make up it's high costs on the much tighter margins of the Atlantic routes. Had it been able to fly the higher margin Pacific routes it is quite possible it would not have been too expensive to be sustainable - even at the same (or slightly higher) cost basis.

Re:Not for aircraft. (4, Interesting)

moosesocks (264553) | about 5 years ago | (#29324387)

The concorde was profitable in its last years (not extremely profitable, but it made money, which is more than most airlines can currently say).

In the end, its operators decided it wasn't worth maintaining/refurbishing the planes, scrapped the program, and wouldn't let competitors purchase the unused aircraft. Richard Branson allegedly made several serious offers for the planes, all of which were rejected. Numerous allegations have been made that the grounding of the Concorde fleet was a result of a conspiracy between Airbus and the airlines (unsubstantiated, but certainly plausible, especially in light of their refusal to sell the craft to other carriers at a time when the company was losing money)

In short, we got lazy and stupid.

Re:Not for aircraft. (2, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 5 years ago | (#29325021)

When calling the Concorde (or any other aircraft) "too expensive to create, manufacture, and maintain." on needs to take into account the ticket price the market will bear.

And on that issue - the market has spoken loudly and clearly. "It ain't worth it".
 
Yeah, I know the Concorde made a paper 'profit' towards the end - but the proof is in the amount of money the airlines were willing to spend to keep this 'profitable' airliner in operation, which coincidentally is equal to the number of Concorde's still in service...
 
Zero.
 
I you can't make enough money to pay your own maintenance bills, then making a 'profit' is pretty much meaningless.

Re:Not for aircraft. (1)

maeka (518272) | about 5 years ago | (#29325141)

And on that issue - the market has spoken loudly and clearly. "It ain't worth it".

I assume it was unintentional that you missed the rest of my post, but let's be clear - the Atlantic market has spoken, not the market as a whole.
The Concorde could not fly the profitable Pacific routes due to limited range, and it could not fly supersonic over mainland USA or Europe due to noise regulations. This greatly limited the market segment it participated in.
This need not be the case (well, the noise issue likely does) with a future supersonic passenger aircraft.

Re:Not for aircraft. (2, Informative)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 5 years ago | (#29327859)

This need not be the case (well, the noise issue likely does) with a future supersonic passenger aircraft.

There is no regulation against flying supersonic over the continent. The regulations are for maximum decibel levels generated over populated areas. You can fly high enough that the pressure waves have dissipated by the time they hit the ground, although this has been found to have limited effect. You can design your fuselage and wing such that the pressure wave is spread out over a longer area, and directed laterally, so it never spikes above the limits. There is been a lot of work in that area over the past few years with the intent of bringing back SSTs.

Re:Not for aircraft. (1)

ahankinson (1249646) | about 5 years ago | (#29325441)

I think you need to refine your stance. "The Market" has not spoken loudly and clearly; "A Market" at a specific place and time has spoken. Supersonic trans-atlantic flight has been shown, in hindsight, not to work in a very specific place and time in history. That's all. It has not proven that it can never be done.

Analyzing failures are helpful for gaining insight into processes, but the failure of one instance shouldn't be taken as a broad indication that the idea itself is a failure. It may simply be the execution.

Re:Not for aircraft. (2, Informative)

smoker2 (750216) | about 5 years ago | (#29325659)

Utter shite [wikipedia.org] . No amount of money would have kept the manufacturers in the business of maintaining the airframes. They have too much else to do. The airlines didn't shut it down, the manufacturers did. Without a place to go for regular maintenance, you don't keep your airworthiness certificate. This means you don't fly. And the airlines did indeed spend a lot of money to try and mitigate the mechanical circumstances of the Paris crash, which wasn't even their fault. Crap on the runway is crap on the runway, no matter who or what runs over it. If that incident had not happened, I'm willing to bet Concorde would still be flying, even in the current climate.
But Airbus is the new darling, so they've distanced themselves from Concorde and concentrated on their own designs. With recent advances in engine design and composite technology, a new supersonic plane would not consume so much fuel and would doubtless get longer range, given it's only a matter of initial design choice.

It fucking annoys me - one accident (not even self inflicted) in 30 years and people turn round saying "I told you so".

Re:Not for aircraft. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 5 years ago | (#29326933)

Utter shite. No amount of money would have kept the manufacturers in the business of maintaining the airframes. They have too much else to do.

Horseshit. If there was money to be made in it, they'd have still been in it.
 
 

With recent advances in engine design and composite technology, a new supersonic plane would not consume so much fuel and would doubtless get longer range, given it's only a matter of initial design choice.

Weight isn't the problem for supersonic aircraft - you could cut the weight of Concorde by 80% and give the most fuel efficient engines available, and it still wouldn't get across the Pacific. Drag is the dominant problem, and nobody has solved that one yet.

Re:Not for aircraft. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29325987)

Those Concordes were built around 1970. There comes a point when any old aircraft is too expensive to keep flying and it makes sense to buy new ones.

Re:Not for aircraft. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324247)

The concorde was designed in the 60's, you don't think there has happened a lot with materials etc since then? Also, actually drag will drop markedly at around mach 8 or so IIRC, so it might actually be cheaper than your average subsonic flight.

Re:Not for aircraft. (3, Funny)

Myrcutio (1006333) | about 5 years ago | (#29325197)

The F-22 wasn't created for our time, it's intended use is to aid our future brethren in overthrowing their tyrannical alien overlords. See the documentary here [wikipedia.org] .

It's no concorde (3, Interesting)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | about 5 years ago | (#29325409)

It's no Concorde in any sense. The Concorde was created to make an efficient aircraft, not a fast one. This is the history I learned in college:

Jet engines are more economical the faster you get. Too bad the air friction (drag) gets worse the faster you get. For subsonic aircraft with single flow engines, the optimum lies just a bit below the speed of sound. As there were only single-flow jet engines at that time, the Concorde was created to try to shift the optimum to above the speed of sound. They succeeded in that.

But then, the multi-flow jet engine was invented. Instead of blowing the air out even faster, a more powerful jet engine could now mount an extra turbine that drove an extra flow of air, thereby spreading the power over more air, that was accelerated less. Bummer. Now the Concorde was just a fancy fast-flying airliner.

Re:Not for aircraft. (1)

greyhueofdoubt (1159527) | about 5 years ago | (#29326861)

The f-22 didn't take much longer than other 5th generation aircraft. Oh wait, the F-22 is the ONLY 5th gen fighter in the world. And it only just went into service. And frankly, I don't want us to ever *need* it- Needing an f-22 would require an enemy with excellent air power, which would mean that we were fighting a major power such as china, india, or russia.

Do you complain that our nukes don't get used often enough?

-b

Re:Not for aircraft. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29327729)

Well, with the Indian jets and the Russian ones in the pipe, the F22 may yet see a use. Too bad we shut down the production lines, fired the 90000 people working on it, etc...

Hell, let's just let everyone else catch up. That makes a lot of damn sense.

The scramjet is in no way a replacement. While the F22 could break the speed of sound at cruise, speed wasn't it's only advantage.

.. and in further news... from 1967 (1)

meglon (1001833) | about 5 years ago | (#29324167)

http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/hyperrev-x15/ch-0.html [nasa.gov]

perhaps one of the tags should have been "been there, done that"

Re:.. and in further news... from 1967 (1)

jklmuk (1383691) | about 5 years ago | (#29324267)

http://www.nasa.gov/missions/research/x43-main.html [nasa.gov]

nasa have already achieved mach 9.6. Mach 6 should be a walk in the park

Re:.. and in further news... from 1967 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29325177)

The X15 showed you could actually fly and control something at that speed.

The X42 showed that a scram jet actually can produce positive thrust at higher speeds. This wasn't a solid given until it was tried. And it only did it for 7-10 seconds of powered flight.

The X51 is the next step, seeing if you can sustain this sort of flight for any length of time.

There will be many more steps needed to produce anything useful. "Been there, done that" is nonsense.

Re:.. and in further news... from 1967 (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 5 years ago | (#29327887)

They ran the engine for 10 seconds. With that limited duration, a bit of ablative material on the skin, and you're fine. Running for 5 minutes and 350 miles is considerably more difficult.

Re:.. and in further news... from 1967 (1)

PachmanP (881352) | about 5 years ago | (#29328423)

The key is sustaining power. The x43 engines where basically big copper heatsinks. The goal was to demonstrate demonstrate supersonic combustion before the engine melted. I believe the goal for this one is to be able to run an engine that doesn't melt.

Re:.. and in further news... from 1967 (1)

jnik (1733) | about 5 years ago | (#29324535)

The X-15 used rocket engines (carried its own oxidizer). This is a jet, using oxygen from the air.

just another weapon (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324185)

for the American military. Doesn't seem like something slashdot should be celebrating.

Re:just another weapon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324643)

You seem to have an acute case of rectal-cranial inversion.

Sigh (0)

WindBourne (631190) | about 5 years ago | (#29325837)

Such short-sightedness. We did a 10 second burn earlier on the X-43 and so did Australia. Both of them were just tests of concepts. This is another longer lasting test. Will it lead to a super fast Missile? Yup. BUT, then again, China, as well as Russia, are also working on the same thing. In fact, that is what drove our tech from NASA to DOD. Both China and Russia have QUIETLY made several attempts at this, and failed.

Now, were else will this lead? Almost certainly it will lead to a new military drone (within 10 years, probably sooner). BUT, it will also lead to a space vehicle also by 2020. Keep in mind that the goal of a space vehicle is to get SPEED. Once we develop an engine that handles the majority of the supersonic range, then this will be a reality for such a space vehicle. That will drop the price of launching humans or possibly cargo.

Re:Sigh (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 5 years ago | (#29327193)

... not again. Dude, you need Mach 25 to get into orbit. Also a scramjet, or any -jet engine, cannot work in space because there is no atmosphere to scoop oxygen from. A scramjet also needs something to push it up to speed before it can start. In short: it is useless for spaceships.

Re:Sigh (0)

WindBourne (631190) | about 5 years ago | (#29327225)

The scramjet shoule be able to take you to Mach 14-15 at around 80-90K feet. This gets you to speed and a rocket takes you the rest of the way. That is exactly what the X-30 was to be. Since reagan's ppl screwed that up (under funding like all neo-cons), it led to the X-43, which gave way to this; the X-51 waverider.

Re:Sigh (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 5 years ago | (#29327437)

The X-51 gets to Mach 7+. NASP (X-30) would get to higher speeds by employing a vapourware airframe cooling system which no one ever got to work. Also notice NASP was supposed to use a composite LH2 tank (using even cooler slush LH2 no less!) while for X-33, done years later, noone could manufacture such a tank. NASP was a collection of vapourware items. You couldn't get it to work on schedule for all the money in the world.

Re:Sigh (0)

WindBourne (631190) | about 5 years ago | (#29327899)

The X-43 did Mach 10. The X-51 is flying slow for length of time, but future versions of the scramjet are expected to go to Mach 15. [wikipedia.org]

The Composite LH2 WERE completed, tested and worked. Sadly, they were done AFTER the X-33 was canceled by the neo-cons. And obviously you knew little to nothing of the NASP.

Real step? (3, Insightful)

SlayerofGods (682938) | about 5 years ago | (#29324191)

The X-43 [wikipedia.org] already did mach 9.68.
This is actually a bigger step towards making a mach 6 missile [popularmechanics.com] rather then a mach 6 plane....

Re:Real step? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324565)

Sure it did. For 10 seconds. This is the next generation which they're hoping to run for 5 minutes. :)

Where's my credit card? (1)

wessto (469499) | about 5 years ago | (#29324195)

For some reason at first glance I read "Mach 6 Test Aircraft for sale" and I reached for my wallet...

Re:Where's my credit card? (1)

witherstaff (713820) | about 5 years ago | (#29324341)

You can buy one for $39.99 right now [hasbrotoyshop.com] . Of course you'll have to learn scottish to make some of the things work.

Re:Where's my credit card? (1)

skyride (1436439) | about 5 years ago | (#29324433)

Damn you all Slashdot! I am scottish, however the link has been slashdot'd so I am unable to fulfill my dreams! Damn you all!

Unanswered question (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324245)

US Air Force said it successfully married the test aircraft

But will this development be recognized outside of states like California and Massachusetts?

Re:Unanswered question (1)

sirrunsalot (1575073) | about 5 years ago | (#29324887)

But will this development be recognized outside of states like California and Massachusetts?

Don't ask, don't tell.

Wake me up when there is real news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324249)

Pfft, the space shuttle already travels at 23 to 26 mach.

Yawn.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324299)

Serious aviation/aerospace buffs know this is all VERY old news...

Fast close clean shave (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29324303)

Twice as fast as a Mach 3 shaver!

Cool but... (2, Interesting)

Brad1138 (590148) | about 5 years ago | (#29324531)

What ever happened to the Aurora [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Cool but... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 5 years ago | (#29326969)

Nothing can happen to something that doesn't exist.

That's fine for the Air Force, but ... (2, Insightful)

PPH (736903) | about 5 years ago | (#29324693)

... they could save me more travel time by not making me take my shoes off and stand in endless, pointless security lines.

Re:That's fine for the Air Force, but ... (1)

D Ninja (825055) | about 5 years ago | (#29326425)

I so wish I had mod points.

What's great is that, even given today's security measures, 9/11 would have still happened. Nothing that those terrorists did on 9/11 would have broken today's laws.

Re:That's fine for the Air Force, but ... (4, Insightful)

D Ninja (825055) | about 5 years ago | (#29326441)

Hmmm...I'm reading my post, and I don't mean to say that it would be great 9/11 would still happen. Don't get me wrong - 9/11 sucked and I would never want that to happen again. But, when I say "what's great" is the fact that nobody seemed to stop and think about how pointless many/most of the security measures actually are. (AKA, I was attempting sarcasm and it definitely did not come through...my apologies.)

Re:That's fine for the Air Force, but ... (0)

TimSSG (1068536) | about 5 years ago | (#29327793)

Other than the reinforcing of the cockpit doors, was there a security change that might stop an hi-jacking? Tim S.

Re:That's fine for the Air Force, but ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 5 years ago | (#29328721)

They didn't kick in the cockpit door. They killed a few passengers/cabin crew and the pilots let them in. SOP at the time was: cooperate. Let them hijack the plane. The worst that will happen is a trip to Havana.

Not any more. Cockpit door, box cutters or not, odds are that the passengers will kill the hijackers. All the pilots have to do is land the plane fast.

Gat Marriage? (1)

Crock23A (1124275) | about 5 years ago | (#29324711)

Since most vehicles, including aircraft, are named after girls, would this be considered a gay marriage?

Re:Gat Marriage? (1)

sirrunsalot (1575073) | about 5 years ago | (#29324955)

Since most vehicles, including aircraft, are named after girls, would this be considered a gay marriage?

No. Apparently it's gat.

Re:Gat Marriage? (1)

Trepidity (597) | about 5 years ago | (#29326183)

Presumably gat marriage is the gangsta equivalent of the traditional shotgun wedding [wikipedia.org] .

it sorta works...we have to admit to it (2, Insightful)

speedlaw (878924) | about 5 years ago | (#29324977)

At some point, some of the Black projects bear fruit. We now need to admit that this can happen, now that we want to go big with it. Sorta like stealth, we had it for a while but at some point needed to go "white" with it. If it is ready for prime time, cool. You didn't think the SR 71 wasn't replaced, did you ?

Re:it sorta works...we have to admit to it (2, Informative)

greyhueofdoubt (1159527) | about 5 years ago | (#29326957)

You didn't think the SR 71 wasn't replaced, did you ?

Um... Yeah, it was replaced... With *satellites*.

And just a word of wisdom from someone who works for 'the dark side': Supersonic aircraft are not stealthy--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonic_boom [wikipedia.org]

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/xplanes/stea-flash.html [pbs.org]

-b

Re:it sorta works...we have to admit to it (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 5 years ago | (#29327209)

The SR-71 was replaced. By spy satellites. Ever used Google Maps? That uses satellites photos. Now imagine something higher resolution and with dynamic updates.

Re:it sorta works...we have to admit to it (1)

speedlaw (878924) | about 5 years ago | (#29328059)

Yes, but the problem with sats is that everyone knows when they go by. A fast plane is not predictable. Mach five with stealth, even minimal stealth, will be in and out before the enemy can do anything.

x-wing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29325113)

So if you look at the front of that thing, perhaps easier to see if you go to the hi-res photo [af.mil] , it kinda looks like the front of an an X-wing fighter...

My Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29325157)

Not knowing the mass of this thing, if Mach 6 is achieved, how close will this be to achieving escape velocity, and in fact, is that the real goal of the exercise?

sek

Mach 6 (1)

rombertw (1520489) | about 5 years ago | (#29325283)

Is that somewhere around Warp 2?

Worthless (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | about 5 years ago | (#29325547)

Scramjet tech is worthless. It's not a very good weapon - a scramjet is going to have one heck of a heat signature and probably can't be very stealthy. Not just from the exhaust...at Mach 6 the entire aircraft/missile is going to be glowing red from heat. Also, air to air missiles (like the Patriot) that use rockets already go that fast.

Second, it's worthless for getting stuff into orbit. The reason is simple - the reason a rocket costs so darn much has nothing to do with fuel. It has to do with complexity - it's very expensive to make something as complicated as a rocket work under all the stresses of a launch. A scramjet just worsens the problem. It's not the fuel or the size of the tankage that makes the rockets that SpaceX builds cost so much. It has to do with building the rocket well enough that it makes it and doesn't fail (again). A scramjet engine is evidently incredibly complex to make work, and is just another pork barrel project of the air force.

Re:Worthless (2, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | about 5 years ago | (#29325941)

Scramjet is one of the easiest engines to build. In fact, they will be a great deal less expensive for maintenance. It is just difficult to get it correct. It will also be difficult to get it up to the speed. Right now, we are using a rocket to get there. But down the road, we will likely use a ramjet which will be inefficient taking off (probably will use an electronic runway launcher to get going), all the way to the mach 5.

Re:Worthless (2, Insightful)

pohl (872) | about 5 years ago | (#29326699)

You sound very sure. I'm curious, how would a Patriot (traveling at its top speed of Mach 5) overtake and intercept something traveling at the same (or greater) speed given that the latter has a rage of 600 nautical miles and the former has a range of 99 miles?

Are you sure that stealth is a priority given the X-51's intended mission [popularmechanics.com] ?

Re:Worthless (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 5 years ago | (#29327335)

Fine. Use a Russian S-300 PMU then. Or if you are from the USA an Aegis using RIM-161 Standard Missile 3. If you can only get Israeli, an Arrow missile [wikipedia.org] . If you need more range you just require a larger missile.

Re:Worthless (1)

rcw-home (122017) | about 5 years ago | (#29326959)

The reason is simple - the reason a rocket costs so darn much has nothing to do with fuel. It has to do with complexity - it's very expensive to make something as complicated as a rocket work under all the stresses of a launch.

All of that complexity in turn stems from the insanely high mass ratios that chemical rockets require to achieve orbital velocity (93.5% of the Shuttle's weight is fuel/tank/boosters). That, in turn, means the rocket itself must be made as lightly as possible; you cannot merely overengineer things like you would a car (or to a lesser extent, a plane) and hope that you'll still get off the ground with them. And if your calculations are wrong, the part fails and perhaps takes the rocket with it.

Since a scramjet gets its oxygen from the air, you can potentially carry up a lot more mass. Some of this could be payload, some of it could be a heavier-duty structure with a better safety margin.

Also, most of the complexity of a scramjet is in the design of the shape. This test vehicle has only one moving part, the fuel pump.

Re:Worthless (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 5 years ago | (#29327359)

Also, most of the complexity of a scramjet is in the design of the shape. This test vehicle has only one moving part, the fuel pump.

A rocket engine's most complex part is also the fuel pump... Unless you use pressure-fed engines, in which case you don't even need a pump at all!

You cannot reach space using just a scramjet anyway. You need rockets. There is no air in space.

Re:Worthless (0)

rcw-home (122017) | about 5 years ago | (#29327735)

You cannot reach space using just a scramjet anyway. You need rockets. There is no air in space.

Obviously. But a rocket that only has to add that last third or fourth of orbital delta-v can be designed a lot more conservatively and carry a lot more payload (which means a lower cost per kg to orbit). This scramjet is maneuverable - it can stay in air to breathe for as long as it takes to accelerate, then it can let the upper rocket stage finish the job.

Yeah, but the real question is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29325625)

When are they going to get around to replacing the X-302s [google.co.uk] ? (AKA F-302)

Those hyperdrives are might unstable, surely they could use the Asgard knowledge base to build a stable engine?

Mach Nipple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29327731)

phssssssssssssssst Mach 6, I go Mach Nipple everywhere I go, that's why I have inverted nipples.

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