Monday, August 20, 2012

Waverider X-51A

The Waverider X-51A test was a failure. The vehicle was launched successfully from a B-52 bomber Tuesday over Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range at about 11:35 a.m. PT. But 16 seconds after launch, “a fault was identified with one of the cruiser control fins.” Then, about 15 seconds after the craft separated from the rocket booster, the cruiser lost control.

“It is unfortunate that a problem with this subsystem caused a termination before we could light the Scramjet engine,” said X-51A Program Manager Charlie Brink via a news release Wednesday.  “All our data showed we had created the right conditions for engine ignition and we were very hopeful to meet our test objectives.”

The test is a blow to the Waverider program, but also a setback for the development of hypersonic flight, since the control subsystem responsible for the failure had proven “reliable” in past flights.

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