Scramjet Test Flight, New York to London in One Hour Could Happen

A new aircraft being tested by the United States military would be the fasted ever created, screeching through the sky at over 4,500 miles per hour.

The experimental aircraft, known as X-51A WaveRider or "Scramjet," is scheduled for a test flight this week and is currently being prepared at Edwards Air Force Base in southern California, according to reports.

The X-51A will be attached to a B-52 bomber's wing and it will be deployed while in flight somewhere over about 50,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean.

"Attaining sustained hypersonic flight is like going from propeller-driven aircraft to jet aircraft," Robert Mercier, deputy for technology at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Ohio, told the New York Times.

The project is currently being funded by NASA and also the Pentagon, who both are eager to explore how this new technology can be used for military stealth aircraft and new weapon systems.

The WaveRider program is estimated to cost $140 million, according to, a website for military policy research.

But the new aircraft has had a shaky history as previous tests were aborted after the engine stalled.

This latest scheduled test flight calls for the aircraft to free-fall for four seconds before its booster rocket engine ignites and accelerates the aircraft to about Mach 4.5 after just 30 seconds, military officials explained.

Then the aircraft's scramjet engine will ignite and the WaveRider is expected to accelerate to about Mach 6- 4,500 mph- and climb to nearly 70,000 feet. After 300 seconds of flight, the WaveRider is set to break up after splashing into the Pacific with no plans for recovery.

"Since the Wright brothers, we have examined how to make aircraft better and faster. Hypersonic flight is one of those areas that is a potential frontier for aeronautics. I believe we're standing in the door waiting to go into that arena," Mercier said.

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