This image shows the X-43A hypersonic vehicle. Clicking on this image will show the trajectory the X-43A was suppose to take including air drop from the B-52 plane, ascent by the Hyper-X booster, seperation from the booster and the X-43A free flight.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA
Hypersonic Vehicle Plummets into Pacific Ocean
News story originally written on June 5, 2001
NASA was testing one of its hypersonic vehicles on Saturday, June 2, 2000. Unfortunately, the vehicle and the rocket booster attached to it went out of control over the Pacific Ocean! Since NASA controllers couldn't control the vehicle, they had to blow it up! A signal was sent to the vehicle causing an explosion of the X-43A hypersonic vehicle and rocket booster. Debris fell into the ocean
These hypersonic vehicles can fly at rocket speeds (hypersonic means at least five times the speed of sound!). The vehicle being tested on Saturday, the X-43A, was suppose to fly at speeds approaching Mach 7 before splashing into the Pacific Ocean. Mach 7 means that the X-43A would have been traveling at seven times the speed of sound!
The X-43A is one of three vehicles NASA is going to test. After NASA looks into this mishap, they will go ahead with the other two flights. Although none of the planes will be recovered (all are scheduled to splash into the ocean), data collected during the flights will be used to build future vehicles that could be used in future space exploration. The X-43A was only 12 feet long with a 5-foot wingspan, but someday hypersonic space traveling vehicles may be over 200 feet long!
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
on science education, ranging from evolution
, classroom research
, and the need for science and math literacy
You might also be interested in:
HESSI (the High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager) is NASA's newest mission built to study the Sun. Specifically, HESSI will study solar flares. Solar activity like flares can have a huge effect on Earth....more
The launch of solar satellite HESSI has been postponed! When it turned out that the Pegasus rocket designed to boost the X-34A hypersonic vehicle went out of control on June 2nd and had to be blown up,...more
It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more
The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on October 29th at 2:19 p.m. EST. The weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit. This was the United States' 123rd...more
A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more
Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials want an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting to be...more
A coronal mass ejection (CME) happened on the Sun early last month. The material that was thrown out from this explosion passed the ACE spacecraft. The SWICS instrument on ACE has produced a new and very...more