A test flight of an unmanned aircraft designed to travel up to 3,600 mph plummeted into the Pacific Ocean. The plane was supposed to reach mach 6, or six times the speed of sound, but there was a problem with one of the control fins 15 seconds into the flight. Hypersonic flight has been a tantalizing idea going back 50 or more years (LA-NY in an hour is a fun thought), but engineers have yet make much headway. From the LAT:
The WaveRider program is estimated to cost $140 million, according to Globalsecurity.org, a website for military policy research. Work on the aircraft was done by Boeing Co.'s research center in Huntington Beach and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne in Canoga Park. One of the four WaveRider aircraft remains. But officials have not decided when -- or if -- that vehicle will fly. Aerospace engineers say that harnessing technology capable of sustaining hypersonic speeds -- going five times the speed of sound or more -- is crucial to the next generation of missiles, military aircraft, spacecraft -- and even passenger planes.