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NEW ENGINE FOR FUTURE SPACE FLIGHTS



Submitted by Arthur N1ORC  - Amsat A/C #31468


Elvia Thompson
Headquarters, Washington
(Phone: 202/358-1696)

Keith Henry
Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.
(Phone: 757/864-6120/757/344-7211)

Leslie Williams
Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif.
(Phone: 661/276-3893)


	Nov. 16, 2004
RELEASE: 04-373

NASA's X-43A Scramjet Breaks Speed Record

NASA's X-43A research vehicle screamed into the record books today, 
demonstrating an air-breathing engine can fly at nearly 10 times the 
speed of sound. Preliminary data from the scramjet-powered research 
vehicle show its revolutionary engine worked successfully at 
approximately Mach 10, nearly 7000 mph, as it flew at an altitude of 
approximately 110,000 feet.

The flight took place in restricted airspace over the Pacific Ocean 
northwest of Los Angeles. The flight was the last and fastest of three 
unpiloted tests in NASA's Hyper-X Program. The program's purpose was to 
explore an alternative to rocket power for space access vehicles.

"This flight is a key milestone and a major step toward the future 
possibilities for producing boosters for sending large and critical 
payloads into space in a reliable, safe, inexpensive manner," said NASA 
Administrator Sean O'Keefe. "These developments will also help us 
advance the Vision for Space Exploration, while helping to advance 
commercial aviation technology," Administrator O'Keefe said.

Supersonic combustion ramjets (scramjets) promise more airplane-like 
operations for increased affordability, flexibility and safety in ultra 
high-speed flights within the atmosphere and for the first stage to 
Earth orbit. The scramjet advantage is once it accelerates to 
approximately Mach 4 by a conventional jet engine or booster rocket, it 
can fly at supersonic speeds, possibly as fast as Mach 15, without 
carrying heavy oxygen tanks, as rockets must.

The design of the engine, which has no moving parts, compresses the air 
passing through it, so it can ignite the fuel. Another advantage is 
scramjets can be throttled back and flown more like an airplane, unlike 
rockets, which tend to produce nearly or full thrust all the time.

"The work of the Langley-Dryden team has been exceptional," said NASA's 
Associate Administrator for Aeronautics Research J. Victor Lebacqz. 
"This shows how much we can accomplish when we manage the risk and work 
together toward a common goal. NASA has made a tremendous contribution 
to the body of knowledge in aeronautics with the Hyper-X program, as 
well as making history," he said.

Following launch of the Pegasus booster rocket from NASA's B-52B launch 
aircraft at 40,000 feet, the X-43A separated from the booster and 
accelerated on scramjet power to its intended speed. The mission 
originated from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air 
Force Base, Calif.

NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va., and Dryden jointly conduct 
the Hyper-X Program. NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, 
Washington, manages it.

For more information about the Hyper-X program and the flights of the 
X-43A, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/missions/research/x43-main.html

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov
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