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Volume 46 | Issue 3 | April 2004

Research Roundup

photo: X-43A just after ignition.
The "stack" containing the X-43A on the nose of an Orbital Sciences rocket climbs after air launch from the NASA B-52B. The X-43A then was air-launched, fired its engine and made history with a flight exceeding Mach 7.
NASA Photo / Jim Ross

X-43A team preparations pay off

Crews worked throughout the week in 24-hour shifts to ensure that when the weather cleared on launch day, the X-43 vehicle stack would be fueled, checked and ready for flight.

During the week leading up to the March 27 launch, the night crew fueled the vehicles in winds that at times exceeded 60 mph.

photo: X-43A final preparation.
Dryden propulsion lead Tom Grindle, Dale McKill, Joe Kinn and Jake Vachon (at right) begin final preparation of the X-43A for its groundbreaking and record-breaking flight to Mach 7. X-43A team members worked around the clock to insure everything would be ready on flight day
NASA Photo / Tony Landis

This X-Press photo essay pays tribute to the entire X-43A team and the sacrifices they made to guarantee the success of the X-43A's mission to redefine the cutting edge of hypersonics.

The successful flight marked the first time an airbreathing engine in an integrated system exceeded Mach 7 and the first time an aircraft separated from another at speeds exceeding Mach 5.

Members of the X-43A team are NASA Dryden, NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va., ATK GASL (formerly MicroCraft Inc.) of Tullahoma, Tenn., where both the vehicle and the engine were built, and Boeing Phantom Works, Huntington Beach, Calif., designers of the thermal protection and onboard systems. The booster is a modified Pegasus rocket built by Orbital Sciences Corp., Chandler, Ariz.

B-52H ground crew in preparation for the big day. B-52H flight crew in preparation for flight

From left, B-52B crew chief Mike Bondy, and Jeff Doughty and Monte Hodges work to prepare for the X-43A's successful March 27 flight.
NASA Photo /Tony Landis

The crew of the B-52B on mission day included, from left, Orbital Science's John Pomroy, Dryden Chief Pilot Gordon Fullerton, Dana Purifoy and Dave McAllister.
NASA Photo / Jim Ross

photo: Dave McAllister. Everyone celebrates a successful flight.

Dave McAllister prepares for the mission, where he will monitor the X-43A research vehicle.
NASA Photo / Tony Landis

From left, Dryden mission controller Brad Neal, NASA Associate Administrator for Aeronautics J. Victor Lebacqz, Dryden X-43A Deputy Project Manager Paul Reukauf, Dryden Center Director Kevin L. Petersen, Ryan Warner (seated), Dryden X-43A Project Manager Joel Sitz and Dryden X-43A chief engineer Griffin P. "Griff" Corpening (seated) celebrate a successful flight.
NASA Photo / Tom Tschida

X-43A Photo Gallery

X-43A Movie Gallery