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US Air Force

The Garvey Prospector P-15, powered by an ORBITEC vortex liquid fuel rocket engine, climbs...

Orbital Technologies Corporation (ORBITEC) successfully flight tested its patented vortex liquid fuel rocket engine on October 25. The engine was installed in a Prospector-class Garvey Spacecraft Corporation launch vehicle, and the resulting rocket was launched at the Friends of Amateur Rocketry facility near Edwards Air Force Base in California. The flight established substantial progress toward ORBITEC's development of a 30,000-lb (13,600-kg) thrust vortex engine for the US Air Force Advanced Upper Stage Engine Program and for NASA's Space Launch System.  Read More

Artists concept of the X-51A (Image: US Air Force)

The United States Air Force (USAF) has released the results of last August’s third test of the X-51a Waverider, which resulted in the crash of the unmanned scramjet demonstrator. At a press teleconference featuring the Program Manager for Air Force Research Laboratory, Charles Brink, it was confirmed that a malfunctioning fin was the cause of the crash. However, engineers are confident of correcting the fault in time for the fourth test flight scheduled for (Northern Hemisphere) late spring or early summer of next year.  Read More

Airplane creating vortices made visible by colored smoke (Image: NASA Langley Research Cen...

The United States Air Force is taking flying lessons from geese and spiny lobsters. This may seem like the mother of all bureaucratic errors, but there’s actually some pretty solid science behind it. In exploiting a phenomenon known as “vortex surfing,” the USAF has found that by having C-17 cargo planes flying in formation, it can reduce fuel consumption by up to ten percent.  Read More

Artists concept of the X-51A (Image: US Air Force)

Wright Patterson AFB has confirmed in an official press release that Tuesday’s test of the Waverider X-51A unmanned hypersonic missile has failed. Launched from a B-52 bomber over Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range at 11:36 AM PST, the separation from the bomber and ignition of the X-51A’s rocket booster went as planned. However, 16 seconds into the flight a fault occurred in one of the missile’s control fins before the scramjet could start and the X-51A was today officially reported as "lost." At present, there are no further official details, but the New York Daily News reports that the missile crashed into the Pacific Ocean while NBC News states that the X-51A broke up in flight and fell into the ocean "in pieces."  Read More

The X-47B launches rom Pax River for a 35-minute flight over the Chesapeake Bay on July 29...

Following the completion of airworthiness flight tests at Edwards Air Force Base in California on May 15, the second Northrop Grumman-built X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator was transported cross-country to Naval Air Station Patuxent (Pax) River in Maryland where it has just conducted the first flight at its new home.  Read More

The second Northrop Grumman-built X-47B unmanned aircraft lifts off for one of its final f...

The Northrop Grumman-built X-47B has passed the latest checkpoint on its flight path towards becoming the first carrier-based, tailless, fighter-sized, unmanned aircraft in the U.S. Navy’s arsenal with the successful conclusion of the first major phase of flight testing at Edwards Air Force Base (EAFB) in California.  Read More

Computer image of the X-56A unmanned modular aircraft that NASA will use to test enabling ...

NASA has announced it will use a modular, unmanned flight research vehicle being built by Lockheed Martin for the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to test enabling technologies for new kinds of lightweight, energy-efficient, flexible aircraft. The small aircraft, dubbed the X-56A, will be used to explore ways to suppress vibrations and alleviate the load on flexible aircraft from wind gusts and atmospheric turbulence.  Read More

X-37B on runway at Vandenberg AFB (Image: USAF)

When the Space Shuttle Atlantis touched down for the final time on July 21, 2011, it looked as if the notion of a manned spacecraft capable of going into orbit and then landing like a conventional airplane had been abandoned. The US government appears to be in favor of returning to Apollo-style space capsules with anything like the Shuttles being relegated to the private sector. But at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' (AIAA) recent Space 2011 conference, Arthur Grantz, chief engineer of Space and Intelligence Systems' Experimental Systems Group at Boeing, delivered a paper indicating that the U.S. Air Force and Boeing are already on the way toward developing a manned Shuttle replacement based on the X-37B robot space plane.  Read More

Upgrades are planned which will keep the venerable B-52 in service until the 2040s (Photo:...

Mention the "B-52" to most people and they'll think of either an '80s pop group, a bad hair style, or an ancient bomber that's a relic of the Cold War. The name conjures up a vintage warplane featured in grainy footage from the Cuban Missile Crisis, but what may surprise people is to learn that in the second decade of the 21st century, the B-52 fleet still plays a key role in America's nuclear deterrence and conventional warfare strategy. Now the US Defense Department is upgrading the venerable USAF B-52 heavy bomber to allow the sixty-year old aircraft to continue in active front-line service until the 2040s.  Read More

Final checks to the X-51A Waverider scramjet, which is affixed to an Edwards B-52H Stratof...

The second hypersonic test flight of Boeing's X-51A Waverider has ended prematurely with the craft failing to transition to full power. The X-51A Waverider broke the record for the longest ever supersonic combustion scramjet-powered flight on its first autonomous flight in May 2010, flying under scramjet power for just under three and a half minutes at a top speed of Mach 5. For the second hypersonic flight test, the craft was expected to accelerate to about Mach 6, but only managed to accelerate to Mach 5 under solid rocket booster propulsion before the flight had to be terminated.  Read More

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