Boeing aircraft flies at five times the speed of sound
An unmanned aircraft has set the record for the longest ever hypersonic flight by flying at five times the speed of sound for three-and-a-half minutes.
Sky News reports that the X-5AQ WaveRider, designed by Boeing, flew at a top speed of Mach 5.1 over the Pacific Ocean on May 1.
The flight covered 230 nautical miles in just over six minutes, before the jet plunged into the ocean.
The US Air Force said that this was the longest of four X-51A test flights, which could eventually lead to practical use of hypersonic jet-fuelled aircraft in the future.
The WaveRider, which was mounted under the left wing of a B-52 bomber, dropped down at an altitude of about 50,000 feet, before accelerating away.
Powered by a solid rocket booster, it accelerated to Mach 4.8 in about 26 seconds. It then separated from the booster and the engine lit, before accelerating to Mach 5.1 at 60,000 feet.
The cruiser sent back data to the Edwards Air Force Base in California, until it made a controlled dive into the Pacific Ocean.
The US Air Force said that the aircraft were built to demonstrate the new technology as part of a programme aimed at creating hypersonic weapons, hypersonic intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and future access to space.
Channel 4 News reports that a plane flying at that speed could fly from London to Sydney in about two-and-a-half hours.
Click on the image below to watch footage of the test flight...
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