Mon, Jun 04, 2007
Scramjet Demonstrator Scheduled To Fly In 2009
Aero-News learned Monday that
Boeing's X-51A WaveRider Scramjet Engine Demonstrator recently
completed a Critical Design Review (CDR) and fired its engine for
the first time -- two major program milestones necessary for first
The X-51A program, managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory
Propulsion Directorate, is a consortium of the US Air Force, DARPA,
NASA, Boeing and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne to demonstrate
hypersonic flight capability.
Held last week in West Palm Beach, FL the CDR allowed government
and industry officials to review and validate the vehicle's design,
assembly, integration and flight test plan. The review is a
critical part of the program where specifications are verified to
indicate that the vehicle's design has matured to its requirements.
Procurements, manufacturing and assembly processes also are
During the successful firing of the Pratt & Whitney X-1
demonstrator engine, test engineers used a Full Authority Digital
Engine Controller to simulate flight conditions at Mach 5 air
speed. Test of the hydrocarbon-fueled scramjet engine also
demonstrated a closed-loop thermal management system that cools
engine hardware and regulates fuel for the engine's combustor. The
X-1 is the first of two ground test engines proposed for the
The successful completion of the CDR and X-1 ground
demonstration indicates that the X-51A program is on track to
proceed with its first flight tests in 2009.
"The CDR and engine test are key validation points for the X-51A
program," said George Muellner, president of Boeing Advanced
Systems. "The X-51A is a remarkable system that will answer many
questions necessary for the development of future hypersonic
propulsion vehicles that can be used for delivering payloads to
space as well as for atmospheric flight applications."
"These successes are critical for the development of the X-51A,"
said Charlie Brink, US Air Force Research Laboratory X-51A program
manager. "It also marks the first time that a scramjet engine was
tested in its simulated 'full flight' propulsion configuration --
the Boeing-designed full vehicle fore-body inlet and nozzle."
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