X43-A Hypersonic Test Vehicle Destroyed During Test Flight

By Keith Cowing
June 2, 2001
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NASA was forced to destroy its X43-A hypersonic test vehicle today over the Pacific Ocean when its Pegasus launch vehicle veered of course. The test was being staged from Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Today’s flight plan called for the first of three test flights which would reach speeds of over Mach 7. The X43-A and its Pegasus launch vehicle had been carried to an altitude of 24,000 feet by a B-52 bomber. Moments after the X-43-A and its Pegasus detached from the B-52 the Pegasus began to veer off of its nominal flight plan. The Range Safety Officer was forced to destroy the vehicle by detonating explosives aboard the rocket. Debris from the X43-A and the Pegasus fell into the Pacific Ocean.

While no final cause has been identified for the malfunction, preliminary indications point to problems with the Pegasus booster – not with the X-43A. A total of three X43-A vehicles were manufactured by MicroCraft, Inc. As such, two vehicles remain to allow the test program to continue. The Pegasus rocket is manufactured by Orbital Sciences Corporation.

Related Links

  • X-43A Research aircraft destroyed after in-flight anomaly, NASA

    Background Information

  • The X-43 Program, SpaceRef Directory

  • X-43A Nears First Hypersonic Flight, NASA

  • Briefing Set as Hyper-X Flight Preparations Begin, NASA

  • NASA Prepares for First Scramjet-powered Hypersonic Flight , NASA

  • Briefing set as Hyper-X flight preparations begin, NASA

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