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Volume 46 | Issue 1 | January 2004


photo: X-43A captive carry
NASA Photo / Tom Tschida

X-43A captive carry flight is a success

By Leslie A. Williams
Public Affairs Specialist

The NASA X-43A hypersonic research vehicle and its Pegasus booster rocket, mounted beneath the wing of a B-52 mothership, had a successful captive-carry flight Jan. 26. A dress rehearsal for the subsequent free flight, the captive-carry flight kept the X-43A/Pegasus combination attached to the B-52 wing pylon throughout the two-hour mission. The flight originated from Dryden, flying over the Pacific Missile Test Range, and back to the Center.

photo: X-43A tucked under the wing of a B-52
The black X-43A rides on the front of a modified Pegasus booster rocket hung from a specialized pylon under the B-52B. The purpose of the Jan. 26 captive carry flight was to verify systems prior to an upcoming launch.
NASA Photo / Carla Thomas

After taking off from Dryden at 3:21 p.m., the B-52 crossed the California coast on a predetermined flight path and returned to Dryden for a 5:28 p.m. landing.

"Flight went very smoothly. Our only concern was potential turbulence at high altitudes, but as it turned out we didn't have any," said Paul Reukauf, Dryden's X-43A deputy project manager. "We met all our objectives for the flight now."

Reukauf said the team is now readying for a launch of the X-43A, tentatively scheduled for Feb. 21. This high-risk exploration of supersonic combustion ramjet (scramjet) technology, intended to take place at seven times the speed of sound, will be conducted in restricted Navy airspace over the Pacific Ocean.

X-43A Photo Gallery

X-43A Movie Gallery