Boeing to Use X-43A Flight Test Results for Future Hypersonic Applications
Boeing to Use
X-43A Flight Test Results for Future Hypersonic Applications
Chigaco, Illinois -- (Boeing) November 17,
2004 -- Information gained from Tuesday’s record-setting flight of NASA’s
Hyper-X research vehicle will be used by Boeing [NYSE: BA] as it designs the
future of flight.
Powered by an air-breathing supersonic combustion ramjet
engine, or “scramjet,” NASA’s 12.3-foot-long Hyper-X (or X-43A) flew close to
Mach 10, or about 7,200 miles per hour, on Nov. 16, after being launched from a
B-52 off the Pacific coast after liftoff from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The
flight broke a previous speed record for air-breathing aircraft set in March by
another X-43A at Mach 6.83, or about 5,000 mph.
"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
As part of the team that developed and built the X-43A for
NASA, the Boeing Phantom Works advanced R&D unit designed the vehicle, the
airframe thermal protection systems, and flight control and navigation systems.
“Breaking speed records with this new scramjet technology is
very exciting for us,” said George Orton, Phantom Works manager for hypersonic
design and application. “But, the true importance of these pioneering flights is
that we’re learning some important lessons that we can apply to aerospace
systems of the future.”
Because scramjet engines have significantly fewer moving
parts than traditional turbojet engines and do not, like conventional rocket
engines, require oxidizer to be carried onboard for combustion, they will allow
for the design of smaller, simpler, more reliable and affordable reusable
vehicles for potential space, military and civil applications.
Boeing has been exploring the realms of hypersonic flight (defined
as Mach 5 and above) since the 1950s, from the X-15 to the Space Shuttle to the
X-43A. Today, Phantom Works is also working on the Scramjet Engine Demonstrator–WaveRider
program for the U.S. Air Force in a teaming arrangement with Pratt & Whitney, as
well as the HyFly Hypersonic Missile Demonstrator program for the U.S. Navy and
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Phantom Works teamed with prime contractor ATK [NYSE: ATK] to
develop and build the X-43A for NASA. ATK was responsible for vehicle
fabrication, assembly, systems integration and testing in addition to providing
the scramjet engine. The booster is a modified Pegasus rocket built by Orbital
NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., and Dryden
Flight Research Center near Edwards, Calif., jointly conduct the Hyper-X program.
Boeing Phantom Works is the advanced R&D unit and a catalyst
of innovation for the Boeing enterprise. It provides advanced solutions and
innovative, breakthrough technologies that reduce cycle time and cost while
improving the quality and performance of aerospace products and services.