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Elvia H. Thompson
Headquarters, Washington
(Phone: 202/358-1696)

Leslie Williams
Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif.
(Phone: 661/276-3893)

Oct. 28, 2004
NASA Schedules Hypersonic X-43a, Mach-10 Flight Press Briefing
A news media briefing for the final X-43A hypersonic-research flight is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 5, 2004, at 1 p.m. EST. The event is at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center (DFRC), Edwards, Calif. It will be carried live on NASA TV.

Vince Rausch, Hyper-X program manager at NASA's Langley Research Center (LaRC), Hampton, Va., and Joel Sitz, X-43A flight test project manager at Dryden, will discuss the goals of the final research flight in the Hyper-X program. Dryden's chief engineer for the third flight, Laurie Marshall, will explain the challenges of preparing the research aircraft for speeds of almost Mach 10. Representatives of the industry team playing a major role in the program also will be available to answer questions.

To participate, reporters must contact the DFRC public affairs office at: 661/276-3449 for accreditation, no later than 7 p.m. EST, Nov. 3. Flight schedule updates for news media will be available at: 661/276-2564.

NASA TV is available on the Web and via satellite in the continental U.S. on AMC-6, Transponder 9C, C-Band, at 72 degrees west longitude. The frequency is 3880.0 MHz. Polarization is vertical, and audio is monaural at 6.80 MHz. In Alaska and Hawaii, NASA TV is available on AMC-7, Transponder 18C, C-Band, at 137 degrees west longitude. The frequency is 4060.0 MHz. Polarization is vertical, and audio is monaural at 6.80 MHz.

The last of three X-43A research missions in NASA's Hyper-X program is scheduled to fly no earlier than Nov. 8 over the Navy Pacific Ocean test range, off the coast of Southern California. The high-risk mission is intended to gather data on the operation of the X-43A's revolutionary supersonic-combustion ramjet (scramjet) engine, at a record speed of almost 10 times the speed of sound.

As with the first two flights, the third X-43A will be carried aloft by NASA's B-52B launch aircraft from DFRC. The B-52B will release the combined X-43A and Pegasus booster stack at 40,000 feet. The booster will accelerate the experimental vehicle to nearly Mach 10, almost 7,000 mph, at approximately 110,000 feet altitude. At booster burnout, the 2,800-pound, wedge-shaped X-43A will separate, and fly briefly on a preprogrammed path, performing a set of tasks and maneuvers before splashdown in the ocean.

Project officials consider this flight somewhat riskier than the earlier flight that nearly reached Mach 7 last March. Less wind-tunnel comparison data is available, and the thermal heating on the vehicle will almost double. However, the risk is mitigated by the experience of having already flown a successful mission, and this flight will fly over a large portion of the same trajectory as the last mission.

The X-43A/Hyper-X hypersonic research program is led by NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate and operated jointly by NASA's LaRC and DFRC. The program aims to demonstrate scramjet air-breathing engine technologies that promise to increase payload capacity, or reduce vehicle size for the same payload, for future hypersonic aircraft and reusable space launch vehicles.

Status reports and information about the X-43A and NASA's Hyper-X hypersonic research program are available on the Internet at:


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