Remember the Concorde? The supersonic airliner that flew across the Atlantic at 1350 miles per hour, making the ocean crossing in 3.5 hours, twice as fast as most commercial flights these days?
Imagine doing it in an hour, flying at 3600 mph (maximum speed). Or flying from New York to Los Angeles in less than 60 minutes. That day is still far away, but with the US military testing something called the X-51A WaveRider, an unmanned aircraft that could reach speeds up to Mach 6, maybe it isn’t that far into the unknown future.
Launched from the wing of a B-52, the WaveRider is expected to zip up into the atmosphere and fly at hypersonic speeds—3,600 mph—for 300 seconds, before breaking up into the ocean.
In theory, a successful trial for the WaveRider could eventually lead to the development of a passenger jet that could theoretically travel across the U.S. in 46 minutes.
The benefits are not only about the civil needs in aviation. Military do things for the military, meaning entering a new generation of missiles, space vehicles and military aircraft, able to move in speeds that have never been achieved before.
Over the last decade, according to the Pentagon, over $2 billion have been spent on the the upgrading of the technology and engineering around hypersonic flight, spending (so far) $140 million on the WaveRider project alone. Lets hope we see this money turning into something the regular person can board soon.