Surf’s Down, But the Season’s Young

The Air Force Research Lab last week postponed launching its second X-51A Waverider hypersonic test vehicle. The Waverider departed Edwards AFB, Calif., aboard its B-52 mothership, on March 24, only to be recalled shortly after reaching the test site over the Point Mugu Sea Range. “[T]est controllers opted not to initiate the test since all required test conditions could not be met,” explained Edwards officials in a release. Since the no-go was not due to any malfunction, program officials will reschedule the flight for the next available range date, pending the B-52’s availability and a thorough re-check of the X-51A’s systems. AFRL hopes that the second Waverider vehicle will attain speeds in excess of Mach 6, surpassing the accomplishments of the first X-51A’s flight in May 2010.