Press Release

NASA Press Briefing on Hypersonic X-43A Mach 10 Flight

By SpaceRef Editor
October 28, 2004
Filed under , ,
NASA Press Briefing on Hypersonic X-43A Mach 10 Flight

A news media briefing to discuss the upcoming final X-43A hypersonic
research flight is planned for Friday, Nov. 5, 2004, at 10 a.m. PST
at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif. The briefing
will be carried live on NASA Television.

The last flight of the series of three X-43A research missions in
NASA’s Hyper-X program is planned to fly as soon as the restricted
Navy Pacific Ocean test range off the coast of Southern California
becomes available, but no earlier than Nov. 8. The high-risk mission
is intended to gather data on the operation of the X-43A’s
revolutionary supersonic-combustion ramjet (or “scramjet”) engine at
a record speed of almost 10 times the speed of sound.

Key program and project officials, including Vince Rausch, Hyper-X
program manager at NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va., and
Joel Sitz, X-43A flight test project manager at NASA Dryden, will
discuss the goals of the final research flight in the Hyper-X
program. Dryden’s chief engineer for the third flight, Laurie
Marshall, will explain the challenges of preparing the research
aircraft for speeds of almost Mach 10. Representatives of the
industry team who have played a major role in the program also will
be available to respond to questions.

As with the first two flights, the third X-43A will be carried aloft
by NASA’s B-52B launch aircraft from NASA’s Dryden Flight Research
Center on Edwards Air Force Base. The B-52B “mothership” will release
the combined X-43A and Pegasus booster stack at 40,000 feet altitude
off the coast of Southern California. The booster will then
accelerate the experimental vehicle to nearly Mach 10, or almost
7,000 mph, at approximately 110,000 feet altitude. At booster
burnout, the 2,800-pound, wedge-shaped X-43A will separate, and fly
briefly on a preprogrammed path, performing a set of tasks and
maneuvers before splashdown in the ocean.

Project officials consider this Mach 10 flight somewhat riskier than
the Mach 6.8 flight last March, due to less wind tunnel comparison
data being available as well as the thermal heating almost doubling
on the vehicle. However, the risk is mitigated by the experience of
having already flown a successful mission and that the upcoming
flight will be flown over a large portion of the same trajectory as
the last mission.

News media representatives wishing to participate in the pre-flight
news briefing should contact the Dryden Flight Research Center public
affairs office at (661) 276-3449 for accreditation no later than 4
p.m. PST Nov. 3.

NASA Television is available in the continental United States on the
AMC-6 satellite, at 72 degrees west longitude, transponder 9, 3880
MHz, vertical polarization, audio at 6.8 MHz. In Alaska or Hawaii,
NASA TV is available on AMC-7, at 137 degrees west longitude,
transponder 18, at 4060 MHz, vertical polarization, audio at 6.8 MHz.

Status reports and further information about the X-43A and NASA’s
Hyper-X hypersonic research program are available on the Internet at: . Flight schedule
updates for news media will also be available by phone at (661)

The X-43A / Hyper-X hypersonic research program is led by NASA’s
Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate and operated jointly by
NASA’s Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va., and Dryden Flight
Research Center, Edwards, Calif. The program aims to demonstrate
scramjet air-breathing engine technologies that promise to increase
payload capacity – or reduce vehicle size for the same payload – for
future hypersonic aircraft and reusable space launch vehicles.

SpaceRef staff editor.