The US NASA
folks over at the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards
Air Force Base in California successfully tested their third,
and last, X43 scramjet yesterday (see the story from NASA here).
The unpilotted research aircraft reached almost 7,000 mph
(~11,000 kph) during its 10-second run before gliding back to
earth and splashing down into the Pacific. But data received
during the brief flight will go a long way towards moving the
state-of-the-art forward. It is extremely difficult to
reproduce, on the ground, the kind of speed needed to operate
scramjets. Hence, this real world test is helpful to gain the
information needed to determine how well this type of
air-breathing engine performs.