The Air Force’s X-51A WaveRider demonstration aircraft is powered by a state-of-the-art scramjet (supersonic combustion scramjet) engine that, unlike a rocket, can capture and burn oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere instead of carrying it in a large tank. In May 2013, the X-51A shattered its own flight time record by making the longest sustained scramjet-powered, air-breathing hypersonic flight to date, reaching Mach 5 – an astonishing one mile per second, or nearly 4,000 miles per hour. Researchers believe scramjet technology will soon produce game-changing hypersonic weapon applications and flight. Imagine a flight from New York to Los Angeles in less than 45 minutes!

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