NASA ‘SCRAMJET’ READY TO FLY AGAIN: The X-43A scramjet is almost ready to fly again.
Scramjets compress air as it moves through the engine at supersonic speeds — without the need for moving parts. Traditional aircraft use fan blades to compress air, which is subsequently used for combustion in a chamber. Theoretically, scramjet technology could replace rockets as a propulsion system to space.
If everything had gone as planned two years ago, the X-43A would have broken a speed record for an airplane by flying at Mach 7 — seven times the speed of sound, which is more than 5,000 mph at sea level. That’s far faster that any air-breathing craft has flown.
Last week NASA released info on the failed first test flight of the X-43A. Apparently the booster rocket that was to shoot the test vehicle to 95,000 feet for the test wasn’t able to cope with the low altitude of the launch from a B-52. Sheesh.
Scramjets are a “way out there” technology that could some day change the way people and things get to low earth orbit. I don’t have any problems with researching them, because our current methods of getting people and things to low earth orbit is far too complex and expensive. Even when they aren’t grounded.