Waverider fails because of a fin

Posted on by on September 3rd, 2012 | Comments Off

A U.S. military test flight of the experimental hypersonic “Waverider” ended prematurely when the aircraft broke apart in the air over the Pacific Ocean due to a failure with its cruiser control fin, the U.S. Air Force said on Wednesday. The problem with the fin was identified 16 seconds after a rocket booster on the unmanned X-51A aircraft was ignited to increase its speed, the Air Force said in a statement. About 15 seconds later, when the X-51A separated from the rocket booster it lost control due to a “faulty control fin,” the statement said.

The aircraft broke apart immediately and fell into the Pacific Ocean near Point Mugu northwest of Los Angeles, said Daryl Mayer, a spokesman for the 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. The X-51 program is a consortium between Boeing and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. The customers are the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, with support from NASA.

The Boeing X-51 team purposely developed the vehicle to package a specific engine type into a soon-to-be-demonstrated platform. When this jet-fueled, air breathing hypersonic vehicle flies in late 2009 and early 2010, it will demonstrate a reliable system capable of operating continuously on jet fuel and accelerating through multiple Mach numbers.

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