It is extremely complicated and challenging to build an engine to power an aircraft at hypersonic speeds
as its engines need to work by pushing the air back faster than the speed of travel.
XS-1 envisions that a reusable first stage would fly to hypersonic speeds
at a suborbital altitude.
The SpaceLiner would take approximately eight minutes to climb to an altitude of some 50 miles, where it will reach the earth's upper atmosphere before gliding back to Earth at hypersonic speeds
of more than 15,000mph.
The third test of the X-51A Waverider was launched Tuesday off the California coast from a B-52 modified bomber aircraft and was to fly for 300 seconds, reaching hypersonic speeds
of Mach 6, but only flew for 16 seconds, according to the Air Force.
Although a variety of rocket-propelled vehicles have flown at hypersonic speeds
AFPN) -- For an aircraft to achieve hypersonic speeds
, ranging from 6,000 to 15,000 mph (Mach 9 to Mach 22), and reach altitudes between 100,000 to 150,000 feet, it needs an airframe structure designed to survive intense heat and pressure.
They understand how this happens at slower speeds, but they still are grappling with which factors influence it at hypersonic speeds
The mission marked the first time a scramjet engine had successfully powered a vehicle in flight at hypersonic speeds
At hypersonic speeds
, shock waves are pressed close to the surface of the aircraft and produce a lot of heat.
NASA is one step closer to developing an inflatable spacecraft heat shield that could survive the superheated hypersonic speeds
of entry into a planetary atmosphere, following the successful July 23 launch of the Langley-led Inflatable Reentry Vehicle Experiment 3 (IRVE-3).
The X-51 removed any future doubt that a scramjet engine can power a vehicle at hypersonic speeds
and accelerate it through the atmosphere," Lewis said.
NASA officials on Monday were putting together a board to investigate Saturday's rocket failure, which destroyed the pilotless, 12-foot-long X-43A that the agency hoped to fly at hypersonic speeds
over the Pacific Ocean.