Impressive, isn't it? No, not the giant B-52 aircraft (a.k.a. Stratofortress), but the much smaller and faster X-51A Waverider attached to its wing. The X-51A is hydrocarbon-fueled experimental craft travels in the Mach 4.5 to 6.5 range. In a test flight last June, the X-51A was released at an altitude of 50,000 feet. In a reminder of the challenges of pushing the boundaries of science, it failed to reach full power. Future applications for hypersonic flight include space travel, reconnaissance, and commercial transportation.
Credit: Bob Ferguson/Boeing