A hypersonic aircraft launched by the Air Force
Tuesday spiraled out of control and was destroyed before it
could reach its goal of speeding to 4,600 mph, Pentagon
officials said Wednesday.
X-51 broke apart after it was dropped from a B-52 bomber, with
pieces falling into the Pacific Ocean, a spokesman for the
project told me today.
If the test had proceeded as planned, the Boeing-built X-51
would have shot through the sky for a five-minute flight at a
speed of up to 3,600 mph (5,800 kilometers per hour), or six
times the speed of sound.
Instead, the Air Force is going
back to the drawing board.
Hypersonic scramjet propulsion has been
widely touted as eventually opening up the way for flights
between London and New York in less than an hour.