NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
X-43C aircraft. Computer artwork of NASA's X-43C or Hypersonic Experimental Vehicle (Hyper-X) in flight. The Hyper-X programme was started in 1996 to test the scramjet-powered jet engine and to design a plane that could be used at hypersonic speeds. The scramjet engines, unlike rockets that must carry both oxygen and fuel, use oxygen from the air scooped up as the aircraft flies at over 5 times the speed of sound (Mach 5). The X-43A craft broke up on its test flight in 2001, which has now been attributed to modelling inaccuracies during the design stage. The X-43C is in development and could go into service in 2008 as a reusable launch vehicle for spacecraft.
Model release not required. Property release not required.