The Air Force will test an hypersonic unmanned experimental aircraft Tuesday to see if it can sustain hypersonic speed for nearly five minutes, the Los Angeles Times reports.
W.J. Hennigan reports the X-51A WaveRider is scheduled to fly from Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert, up to a distance of about 50,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean.
The WaveRider program is a $140 million partnership between Boeing, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.
Hennigan reports the WaveRider will try to reach a speed of 3,600 miles per hour by using JP-7 jet fuel, reaching a speed of Mach 6 and a height of up to 70,000 feet.
A passenger aircraft traveling at that speed could fly between New York and Los Angeles within 46 minutes, according to Hennigan.
During the test, the WaveRider will fall like a bomb for four seconds during the test before the booster rocket engine ignites for 30 seconds to about Mach 4.5, according to the report.
NASA and the Pentagon are providing three national centers funding to study hypersonic flight and the Pentagon hopes hypersonic flight can cut the time required to hit a target to less than an hour, according to the report.