Click to viewBoeing has just completed their firing tests for the stunning X-51A WaveRider Scramjet, and if you want to know what hell looks like, this is it. Or at least, this is how the devil's version of George Foreman's BBQ must look like. This is the first time the scramjet engine has been tested in a full flight propulsion configuration, simulating working conditions at Mach 5 air speed. Jump as fast for more details, higher resolution image and a pic of the whole aircraft.
Apparently, the test has been a complete success, according to Charlie Brink, U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory X-51A program manager: "It marks the first time that a scramjet engine was tested in its simulated 'full flight' propulsion configuration—the Boeing-designed full vehicle fore-body inlet and nozzle."
The X-51A is a concept plane that will demonstrate the scalability of scramjets, engines that achieve speeds similar to rockets but that use air from the atmosphere to burn fuel. In this kind of plane, the engine becomes part of the body of the plane itself (or vice versa). The X-51A will reach Mach 6.5 thanks to new concepts introduced in its design, high temperature materials and airframe/engine integration.
In other words: screw the Mach 5 from Speed Racer. I want one of these.