View Full Version : NASA 's X43-A destroyed on maiden flight

Engine overtemp
3rd Jun 2001, 12:10
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, California (Reuters) - The first prototype of a revolutionary aircraft intended to shatter speed records was destroyed during its maiden flight after a booster rocket carrying it aloft veered out of control and tumbled from the sky.

U.S. space scientists were forced to destroy the unmanned X43-A prototype in mid-air just minutes before the plane was expected to fire the oxygen-fueled "scramjet" engine designed to drive it at seven times the speed of sound.

NASA cameras aboard two F-18 chase planes showed the Pegasus rocket careening off course and falling out of control from the sky before controllers triggered on-board explosives to destroy it over the Pacific Ocean at about 9.45 p.m.

Pieces of the booster rocket and the X43-A prototype fell into the sea.

The X43-A was making the first of three scheduled test flights in a $185-million-program that NASA has billed as representing the future of aviation, ultimately making space travel routine and paving the way for cross-country commercial flights in 30 minutes.

Dejected project scientists said they had no immediate information on what caused the malfunction, though they said it appeared to be the booster rocket, and not the X43-A itself or its hypersonic engine, that was at fault.

"There's a reason we have three of these (prototypes)," NASA spokesman Fred Johnson said. "It's an experimental flight test. If we knew the outcome we wouldn't be learning anything."

The X43-A and its Pegasus booster were carried to 24,000 feet (8,000 metres) by a B-52 bomber that left Edwards Air Force Base in the California desert at about 12:30 p.m. PDT (3:30 p.m. EDT) and the mission appeared to be going smoothly as the small black plane and its booster detached.

The booster rocket was intended to carry the X43-A to Mach 7 speeds at about 100,000 feet (30,800 metres) before the prototype detached from the booster and operated for a few seconds at that speed, setting a speed record. The booster veered out of control before that could happen.

Scientists said the hypersonic engine -- which took engineers some 40 years to achieve -- would revolutionise space travel by obtaining its oxygen fuel from the air.

This would avoid the need for it to carry its own oxygen supply, a weight savings that would allow it to fly greater distances or carry heavier payloads.

3rd Jun 2001, 12:37
The mind verily boggleth http://www.pprune.org/ubb/NonCGI/eek.gif

SIN-JFK in 1h30m,(after being lifted to 10,000 ft by a modified A380) for 20 pax at First-Class+200% fare http://www.pprune.org/ubb/NonCGI/confused.gif

Min check-in time at SIN 1h30min, Then another 2 hours to clear immigration at JFK - Is it really all worth it http://www.pprune.org/ubb/NonCGI/tongue.gif

[This message has been edited by ExSimGuy (edited 03 June 2001).]

3rd Jun 2001, 15:22
....or sitting in the BNN hold for one quarter of it's flight!!!

Be safe.

Buster Hyman
3rd Jun 2001, 17:43
Ooooh! Does this mean the scientists in Dunnunda will beat the "rich" NASA guys with their version, soon to fire at Woomera???