Looks like we won’t be jetting off to New York in time for dinner any time soon, as the X-51A WaveRider test ended in failure a mere 15 seconds after it had detached from the B-52, sending the jet into the ocean with a resounding plop.
The test was meant to last 300 seconds, a good deal longer than the 15 seconds it actually did, but because of a faulty cruiser fin, the WaveRider ended up in the ocean, rather than in the air. In a statement to the press, the Air Force Research Laboratory’s X-51A program manager Charlie Brink stated, “it is unfortunate that a problem with this subsystem caused a termination before we could light the Scramjet engine. All our data showed we had created the right conditions for engine ignition and we were very hopeful to meet our test objectives.”
Out of the four X-51As originally created, only the first had a successful flight which logged a whole 200 seconds of flight time. But with the failure of the third jet, it casts a shadow of doubt on whether the fourth will even fly, or even the eventual possibility of a scramjet-powered vehicle in the future. Shame, as I was kind of looking forward to grabbing some cocktails in Manhattan and then jetting home to be back in my own bed the same night. Well, we can dream. [Wired Danger Room via The Verge]