NASA Goes For Mach 10


Powered by a supersonic combustible ramjet (and an equally powerful media machine) NASA is turning the spotlight back on itself on Monday. After a brief (and perhaps unaccustomed) period in the shadows of the Paul Allen / Burt Rutan / SpaceShipOne show, NASA will grab some limelight this week by trying to make an “airplane” go faster than ever before. The X-43A unmanned scramjet will try to hit Mach 10 over the Pacific Ocean off California today. Launch will be about 2 p.m. PST. The X-43 hit Mach 6.83 in a flight last March, setting an all-time aircraft speed record. Crews loaded the drone under the wing of a B-52 on Thursday, did all the systems checks on Friday and Saturday and fueled everything on Sunday. Because the ramjet engine won’t fire unless the plane is already going really fast, it must be dropped from the Buff, and then a Pegasus rocket gives it the needed boost. Wonder how Rutan would do it …