New York to London in an hour: Hypersonic WaveRider aircraft to be tested Tuesday

hypersonic waverider aircraft to be tested tuesdayConcorde could do it in around three hours, while today’s passenger planes take around seven. However, if a test of the unmanned X-51A WaveRider aircraft goes without a hitch on Tuesday, we could one day see flights between New York and London taking as little as an hour.

Taking off from Edwards Air Force Base in California’s Mojave Desert, the plan is to carry WaveRider – a hypersonic aircraft developed by the US Air Force, Boeing and engine maker Pratt and Whitney, and financed by NASA and the Pentagon – on the wing of a B-52 plane over the Pacific Ocean to a height of 50,000 feet. It’ll then detach from the B-52 and embark on a five-minute flight at speeds of up to 4,500 mph.

WaveRider has been tested before, though its most recent flight, in June last year, ended in failure when the engine was forced to shutdown due to an airflow problem.

If all goes to plan this time, however, the hypersonic aircraft will end its flight by breaking up and landing in the Pacific after around five minutes of flight, which may seem like a funny way to end a “successful” flight but in this case, it’s the length of the flight that’s the key factor.

hypersonic waverider aircraft to be tested tuesday launch

Engineers working on WaveRider say the aircraft’s technology could be used in next-generation space aircraft, military aircraft, missiles and yes, passenger planes too.

Dora Musielak, a high-speed propulsion expert based at the University of Texas, told the LA Times WaveRider could one day lead to hypersonic passenger plane flights.

“It is always a dream to see an airplane fly faster,” she said. “Once the military proves out the concept, hypersonic transport becomes a step closer to reality.”

No doubt 60-minute flights between the US and Europe are a long way off, but should Tuesday’s WaveRider test prove a success, we could find ourselves one step closer to a much smaller world. We shudder to think how much a ticket will cost, though.

Robert A. Mercier, deputy for technology in the high-speed systems division at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Ohio, said that achieving sustained hypersonic flight would be like “going from propeller-driven aircraft to jet aircraft.”

He added, “Since the Wright brothers, we have examined how to make aircraft better and faster. Hypersonic flight is one of those areas that is a potential frontier for aeronautics. I believe we’re standing in the door waiting to go into that arena.”

Emerging Tech

The next clash of Silicon Valley titans will take place in space

By attempting o bring internet access to every last person on Earth, tech giants have a new mission. It's also one that will put them into competition with one another -- only this time in space.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and others that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Gaming

This list of PlayStation 4 exclusives puts its competitors to shame

The PlayStation 4's game library and incredible selection of exclusive games could make anyone with an Xbox One or Nintendo Switch think twice. Here's our list of the latest and greatest PS4 exclusives.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Emerging Tech

Pepsi, StartRocket team up to launch satellites for energy drink ad in night sky

Pepsi is working with StartRocket to launch an energy drink advertisement into the night sky using miniature satellites. The Russian startup is looking to send its system into orbit in 2021.
Emerging Tech

Public vote opens for new planet name, but Planet McPlanetface won’t fly

The largest unnamed world in our solar system needs an official title, and you can help choose it. The scientists who discovered the icy planetoid recently announced details of a public vote offering three choices.
Emerging Tech

How MIT hacked horticulture to cultivate a hyper-flavorful basil plant

At MIT, Caleb Harper used his personal food computers to alter the climate in which he grew basil. Exposing it light for 24 hours a day changed the flavor profile of the plant, making it spicier and stronger.
Emerging Tech

Watch the fearsome DroneHunter X3 pluck rogue UAVs out of the sky

How do you stop enemy drones in their tracks? DroneHunter X3 is a new autonomous anti-drone technology which outruns and then captures rogue drones in midair. Check it out in action.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX’s main Falcon Heavy booster is lost at sea after falling off drone ship

SpaceX has lost the center core of its Falcon Heavy rocket after a successful mission last week that ended with it landing on a drone ship. SpaceX said rough seas resulted in the rocket toppling over and falling into the ocean.
Emerging Tech

Sweden is building a road that recharges electric buses that drive over it

The Swedish transport administration is exploring special roads which will charge vehicles’ batteries as they drive over them. It will test the idea with a short sample stretch of road.
Emerging Tech

Scientists manage to 3D print an actual heart using human cells

Scientists at Tel Aviv University have achieved a world-first by 3D printing a small-scale heart, complete with blood vessels, ventricles, and chambers. Here's why that's so exciting.
Emerging Tech

Drown out noisy neighbors and rest easy with these white noise machines

Some people are more sensitive to sound during sleep than others. Luckily, there are a number of white noise machines on the market to mask the noise. Here are our five of our current favorites.
Emerging Tech

Watch a pack of SpotMini robot dogs perform a terrifying feat of strength

Boston Dynamics' SpotMini robotic dog is now going around in packs, and the results are somewhat concerning. Check out the video to see what kind of shenanigans 10 of them got up to recently ...
Emerging Tech

Notre Dame fire: How drones and a robot called Colossus helped limit the damage

The fire that devastated the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday shocked many around the world. In a bid to prevent even worse damage to the structure, Paris firefighters opted to deploy drones and a robot called Colossus.