A spectacular success

I spent over eight hours on the road today, taking a friend’s very specialized computer to a service technician for attention after it got fried by a lightning strike.  He’s out of town, so Miss D. and myself took it in on his behalf, in the hope that it’ll be fixed by the time he gets back.  My back is calling me all sorts of names after the drive, so I’ve had a quiet evening to give it a chance to recover. More blog fodder will be available tomorrow morning.

To keep you amused until then, here’s video footage of the spectacular fourth and final test flight of Boeing’s X-51A Waverider on May 1st.  To my amazement, the test has been classified as completely successful.  That’s astonishing, considering both the bleeding edge technology involved and the failure of three previous tests.  This is a real achievement for Boeing and the USAF.

The lessons learned from the X-51A program will be invaluable for forthcoming projects, both military and civil.  Here’s how Boeing sees its future use.

Congratulations to all concerned.



  1. The Boeing promo video implies this will be a game changer. I suspect not for several reasons. The vehicle needs to be accelerated to mach 4.5 before they can light off the scramjet which requires additional engines and complexity rocket motors are not likely to be viable for the high cycle operations of civil transport, and if you can sustain m4.5 without scramjet why not build a vehicle to achieve that? Secondly heat build-up from skin friction at speeds over m2 is a huge issue – that was Concorde's speed limiting factor. The speeds needed to attain orbit are higher, but an orbital vehicle punches out of the atmosphere on a semi-vertical trajectory, so spends almost no time "cruising" at high speed in even the thin air of the stratosphere; negating the need for an air-breathing motor.
    It's interesting science, but I'd be surprised if it has any effect on NY-LA air transport.

  2. In addition to Differ's comment:- Dropping spent rocket motors over "flyover country" won't win you many friends.

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