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Hypersonic 'X-51' Poised for The Test Flight

With a motive to bridge the gap between the rockets and airplanes, the US military is planning to carry out an experimental aircraft that can fly at a pace over 6 times than the speed of light! The aircraft will work on the ordinary jet fuel but is expected to work multiple times faster. It is officially called X-51, but the guys love to give it a special name - "WaveRider". But why "WaveRider" and not any other name? Because this special aircraft will stay partially airborne, with its lift generated by the shock waves of its own flight. This is really a highly technical aircraft the civilization has ever witnessed. Being the pioneers in technology, the designers have designed the special aircraft, keeping in mind the goal of program that includes demonstration of air-breathing, hypersonic, combustion ramjet engine, known as a scramjet.

"We built a vehicle around an engine," said Joseph Vogel, the project manager of X-51 with boeing, which is building a series of four test planes programs, which is managed by managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio. The total expense invloved in the program is aroud $246.5-million.

Scramjets works on a high-value technology by using the forward motion of an engine to compress the air for fuel combustion. Although very much similar to to a ramjet engine, yest there is a slight difference. Scramjets work at supersonic speeds that can the capacity to break the record for a jet-powered aircraft with a speed of Mach 9.6, or around 7,000 mph. The concept has been tested by NASA in the year 2004. The vehicle, called X-43, flew only for a few seconds, because the copper-based engine of X-43 wasn't designed to survive the tenure of flight.

The Air Force X-51 program manager Charlie Brink told Discovery News: "The heat from the combustion process was just absorbed by (X-43's) engine. It would hold its shape for a limited point of time and then start melting". The X-51 engine, made by Pratt & Whitney, is made up of a standard nickel alloy, which keep the engine cool during the flight. The program's goal is to fly for about five minutes.

In an interview, Vogel said, "I truly believe this is one of those history leaps that will only happen every so many hundred years". The US military has its eye on the high-speed cruise missiles and along side the space vehicles too that doesn't actually need carry-on oxidizers. The space shuttle carries both liquid hydrogen as well as liquid oxygen, to power its main engines.