The Air Force's experimental X-51A unmanned hypersonic air vehicle flew further on its own power in its first flight on May 26, 2010, than any other scramjet-powered vehicle in history, eclipsing NASA's X-43 Hyper-X, said Air Force and industry officials that same day. The X-51A successfully flew autonomously more than three and a half minutes over the Pacific Ocean, with its scramjet accelerating it to speeds of Mach 5 and an altitude of about 70,000 ft. Thereafter, a vehicle anomaly occurred and the flight was terminated. Nonetheless, the officials said they consider the mission an unqualified success. Here, the X-51A shown on its B-52H host platform before its launch.
Air Force photo by Mike Cassidy
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