First air-breathing, liquid fuel-powered scramjet takes flight
Before the sun had even risen over Wallops Island, Va., on 10 December 2005, a joint Office of Naval Research/Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency vehicle achieved a world first. At an altitude of 63,000 feet, the Freeflight Atmospheric Scramjet Test Technique (FASTT) vehicle became the first air-breathing, liquid hydrocarbon fuel-powered scramjet engine to fly.
After launching from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility on a two-stage, Terrier-Orion unguided solid-rocket system, the approximately 106-inch long, 11-inch diameter, missile-shaped vehicle raced at 5,300 feet per second (Mach 5.5) for 15 seconds before a controlled splashdown into the Atlantic Ocean. The FASTT vehicle project is part of the joint ONR/DARPA Hypersonic Flight Demonstration (HyFly) program and is designed to demonstrate low-cost flight test techniques and obtain in-flight engine performance data at hypersonic speeds. The overall goal of HyFly is to flight-test key technologies enabling a long range, high-speed cruise missile that can cruise at speeds up to Mach 6.
Jennifer Huergo | EurekAlert!
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