Monday, March 29, 2004

NASA - X-43A Soars on Scramjet Power

3/27/04 (pointed out by Science Daily 3/29/04)

Image above: "A modified Pegasus rocket ignites moments after release from the B-52B, beginning the acceleration of the X-43A over the Pacific Ocean on March 27, 2004. Credit: NASA"

"NASA's second X-43A hypersonic research aircraft flew successfully today, the first time an air-breathing scramjet powered aircraft has flown freely.
The unpiloted vehicle's supersonic combustion ramjet, or scramjet, ignited as planned and operated for the duration of its hydrogen fuel supply. The X-43A reached its test speed of Mach 7, or seven times the speed of sound."
"Ramjets operate by subsonic combustion of fuel in a stream of air compressed by the forward speed of the aircraft itself, as opposed to a normal turbojet engine, in which the compressor section (the fan blades) compresses the air. In comparison to turbojets, ramjets have no moving parts. Scramjets (supersonic-combustion ramjets) are ramjet engines in which the airflow through the whole engine remains supersonic. Scramjet technology is challenging because only limited testing can be
performed in ground facilities {right now}. Long duration, full-scale testing requires flight test speeds above Mach 8." (from the photo page linked below)
More pictures are available here.

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