A program which began in 2004, produced only four prototypes, and resulted in only middling success has come to an end. Still, it's hard to bid farewell to the X-51A WaveRider program after its recent, final chapter was written into the history books.
That's because the fourth and final X-51A scramjet test turned out to be the pick of the litter. After being launched from a B-52 and carried up to mach 4.8 by a booster engine, the X-51A's scramjet engine kicked in. Breathing in air, the X-51A then accelerated to mach 5.1 — breaking the mach 5 hypersonic threshold — and sustaining controlled flight for 240 seconds.
With no future plans for building more of the 300-million-dollar-a-pop aircraft, this looks like the end of the line for the X-51A. But while the X-51A will be gone, it's legacy will live on, asfuture generations of hypersonic scramjets will be built upon the knowledge gleaned from the X-51A project. Catch your final glimpse of the X-51A WaveRider in the video and gallery below.
Via Singularity Hub