Hypersonic Aircraft – X43

1.The X-43 is an unmanned experimental hypersonic aircraft design with multiple planned scale variations meant to test different aspects of hypersonic flight. It is part of NASA’s Hyper-X program.

2.The initial version, the X-43A, was designed to operate at speeds greater than Mach 7, about 5,400 mph (8,050 km/h) at altitudes of 100,000 feet (30,000 m) or more.


3.NASA’s X-43A or Hyper-X air vehicle achieved a record-breaking speed of close to Mach 10 (12,000km/hr or 7,000mph) in a test flight in November 2004, which was the culmination of a three-flight test program.

4.The purpose of the program is to develop a hypersonic air vehicle powered by an air-breathing engine. Hypersonic speed is defined as speed above Mach 5 or above five times the speed of sound.

5.The X-43A is a single-use vehicle and is designed to crash into the ocean without recovery. Three of them have been built: the first was destroyed; the other two have successfully flown, with the scramjet operating for approximately 10 seconds, followed by a 10 minute glide and intentional crash.

6.The technology is planned to lead in to the development of hypersonic manned and unmanned aircraft and reusable space launch vehicles. Hypersonic propulsion systems will allow the development of very high-speed strike aircraft, manned or unmanned, capable of attack at great distances deep in hostile territory in a very short time.

7.The X-43A aircraft was a small unpiloted test vehicle measuring just over 12 feet (3.7 m) in length. The vehicle was a lifting body design, where the body of the aircraft provides a significant amount of lift for flight, rather than relying on wings. The aircraft weighed roughly 3,000 pounds or about 1,300 kilograms.

8.The Orbital Sciences Pegasus booster rocket carries the X-43A up to its test altitude of 100,000ft where the X-43A vehicle separates from the booster and flies under the power and control of its own built-in engine and pre-programmed control system.

9.The craft was created to develop and test an exotic type of engine called a supersonic-combustion ramjet, or “scramjet,” an engine variation where external combustion takes place within air that is flowing at supersonic speeds.

10.The engine of the X-43A was primarily fueled with hydrogen. In the successful test, about two pounds (or roughly one kilogram) of the fuel was used.

11.Further development

X-43B,X43C,X43D.

12.Key Data:
X-43A
Length 12ft 4in
Width 5ft 6in
Height 2ft 2in
Weight 3,000lb
Speed Mach 5, Mach 7 and Mach 10
Altitude 100,000ft
X-43B
Length 30ft to 50ft
X-43C
Speed Mach 5 to Mach 7
Length 16ft
Engine Hydrocarbon fuel scramjet engine
X-43D
Speed Mach 10 to Mach 15

Read More – Wikipedia

Read More – Largest Airplane – A380

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