NASA plane sets speed record

An experimental X-43 pilotless plane has broken the world speed record for an atmospheric engine, briefly flying at 7,700km per hour.

    The aircraft was dropped from the wing of a B-52 bomber

    NASA on Saturday said the hypersonic aircraft flew at seven times the speed of sound after being dropped from the wing of a modified B-52 bomber, boosted by an auxiliary rocket to an altitude of nearly 100,000ft.

    The aircraft, a cross between a jet and a rocket, flew on its own for 10 seconds before plunging into the Pacific Ocean.

    "This is a success. Everything worked as planned," said NASA spokeswoman Leslie William.

    "So far everything has been successful," she added.

    Aiming high

    NASA says the prototype engine was destined to eventually power a new generation of space shuttles.

    The test of the tiny prototype, only 3.6m in length, marked the first time a non-rocket, air-breathing jet engine has powered a vehicle in flight at hypersonic speeds, defined as speeds above Mach 5.

    The previous world speed record was established by an SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, which flew at Mach 3.2.

    An experimental X-15 plane was able to fly at Mach 6.7, but with a rocket engine.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab states have launched more than 19,278 air raids across Yemen.

    Lost childhoods: Nigeria's fear of 'witchcraft' ruins young lives

    Lost childhoods: Nigeria's fear of 'witchcraft' ruins young lives

    Many Pentecostal churches in the Niger Delta offer to deliver people from witchcraft and possession - albeit for a fee.

    Why did Bush go to war in Iraq?

    Why did Bush go to war in Iraq?

    No, it wasn't because of WMDs, democracy or Iraqi oil. The real reason is much more sinister than that.