Space and astronomy news and information for the American Southwest. Coverage includes Vandenberg AFB rocket and missile launches.

X-43A Captive Carry Rescheduled

Dryden Flight Research Center News Release

2004 September 22

The captive carry flight of NASA's X-43A hypersonic research aircraft originally scheduled earlier this month has been reset for Sept. 27. Should weather or other concerns force a postponement, the captive carry mission could be flown the following day, Sept. 28.

This captive carry flight is a "dress rehearsal" for the planned free flight later this fall that is targeted to reach a speed of up to Mach 10, or about 7,000 mph. The captive flight duplicates all operational functions of the planned Mach 10 flight and serves as a training exercise for staff, except that the X-43A and its modified Pegasus booster are not released from the launch aircraft and their engines are not ignited.

Two leaky hydraulic packs on the B-52B mothership that forced the captive carry mission to be aborted before takeoff on two successive days in early September have been replaced.

The X-43A is powered by a revolutionary supersonic-combustion ramjet - or "scramjet" - engine. If successful, the Mach 10 flight will break all speed records for an aircraft powered by an air-breathing engine.

It is part of the Hyper-X hypersonic research program 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 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.

For further information about the X-43A and NASA's Hyper-X hypersonic research program on the Internet, log on to:

For more information about NASA aeronautics research on the Internet, visit:

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