A Hypersonic WaveRider Can Fly At Mach 5

In 2013, the X-51A WaveRider reached Mach 5.1, more than five times the speed of sound, after being launched from a B-52 bomber. Unlike a standard plane turbine, its special scramjet engine has no moving parts. The engine mixes hydrocarbon fuel with the air rushing through itself, igniting the fuel and creating shockwaves that the aptly-named vehicle "rides." During its test flight, the X-51A flew more than 425 kilometers (230 nautical miles) in just over six minutes.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Hypersonic planes travel faster than the speed of sound. 00:21

  2. Waverider planes ride on the shockwaves that they produce, and in 2013, Boeing's reached speeds of approximately 6,437 km/hr (4,000 mph). 01:11

  3. A hypersonic aircraft could potentially fly people to any location in the world in two hours or less. 02:15

Written by Curiosity Staff September 17, 2015

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