Mittwoch, November 17, 2004

NASA Tests Scramjet, Reaches Mach 9.6

NASA has successfully flown the X-43A for a third time, reaching almost Mach 9.6, which is around 11,000 km/h or about 3 km/s. The flight breaks its previous speed record of Mach 6.83 set on a flight in March.

The X-43A is a scramjet (supersonic combustion ramjet). Unlike rocket engines, the scramjet does not carry oxygen with it to burn its fuel, but gets the oxygen out of the air like a normal jet. This reduces weight and size of the vehicle, so it can carry greater payloads. However, unlike conventional jet engines, there are no moving rotor blades to compress the air flow, making the technology potentially safer.

So, when will we again be able to fly on supersonic planes?