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October 28, 2004

Press Briefing Scheduled For Hypersonic X-43A Mach 10 Flight

NASA - Press Briefing Scheduled For Hypersonic X-43A Mach 10 Flight

Release: 04-51

A news media briefing to discuss the upcoming final X-43A hypersonic research flight is planned for Friday, Nov. 5, 2004, at 10 a.m. PST at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif. The briefing will be carried live on NASA Television.

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

Key program and project officials, including Vince Rausch, Hyper-X program manager at NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va., and Joel Sitz, X-43A flight test project manager at NASA 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 who have played a major role in the program also will be available to respond to questions.

As with the first two flights, the third X-43A will be carried aloft by NASA's B-52B launch aircraft from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base. The B-52B "mothership" will release the combined X-43A and Pegasus booster stack at 40,000 feet altitude off the coast of Southern California. The booster will then accelerate the experimental vehicle to nearly Mach 10, or 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 Mach 10 flight somewhat riskier than the Mach 6.8 flight last March, due to less wind tunnel comparison data being available as well as the thermal heating almost doubling on the vehicle. However, the risk is mitigated by the experience of having already flown a successful mission and that the upcoming flight will be flown over a large portion of the same trajectory as the last mission.

News media representatives wishing to participate in the pre-flight news briefing should contact the Dryden Flight Research Center public affairs office at (661) 276-3449 for accreditation no later than 4 p.m. PST Nov. 3.

NASA Television is available in the continental United States on the AMC-6 satellite, at 72 degrees west longitude, transponder 9, 3880 MHz, vertical polarization, audio at 6.8 MHz. In Alaska or Hawaii, NASA TV is available on AMC-7, at 137 degrees west longitude, transponder 18, at 4060 MHz, vertical polarization, audio at 6.8 MHz.

Status reports and further information about the X-43A and NASA's Hyper-X hypersonic research program are available on the Internet at: http://www.nasa.gov/missions/research/x43-main.html. Flight schedule updates for news media will also be available by phone at (661) 276-2564.

The X-43A / Hyper-X hypersonic research program is led by NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate and operated jointly by NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va., and Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif. 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.


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