Space: December 3, 1999

Archives

: NASA has received the first of three X-43A unmanned aircraft designed to fly with Supersonic Combustion Ramjet (SCRAMJET) engines. These aircraft will be boosted into the atmosphere by a rocket until they are going fast enough to ignite their hydrogen fuel. The aircraft will be tested at Mach-7 in May 2000, working up to Mach-10 by Sept 2001. While the tests will, it is hoped, prove that Scramjet actually works, there are many technological hurdles before reaching an operational manned tactical or strategic aircraft. For one, the engineers must find a way to use hydrocarbons (e.g., jet fuel) to power it, as this does not require pressurized sub-zero-temperature tanks. This leads to the problem of building a hydrocarbon engine able to function at the speed of Scramjet. Another problem is that Scramjet won't work below Mach-6, so the aircraft would have to carry some other type of engine to handle the original take-off and then land the plane at the end of the mission. The Air Force has visions of Scramjet aircraft carrying satellites to the edge of space or bombing Iran from US bases in two hours.--Stephen V Cole

 


X

beggar Help Keep Us Online!
 

Yep, we have been forced to beg for your support. We want our readers to have a good experience while they are here. We avoid video ads and populating the pages with more than three ads unlike other sites, but this has a consequence for us -- lower revenues. We are bringing in a third of the revenue we brought in just a few years ago. We are not quite homeless yet, but we need your support to keep going. There are three ways you can help:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..

Drake appreciates any help you can give him.

Subscribe   Contribute   Close