DARPA/Boeing X-51A WaveRider

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WaveRider test vehicle meets B-52

by Derek Kaufman
88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

8/4/2009 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) -- Airmen successfully mated the X-51A WaveRider flight test vehicle to a B-52 Stratofortress July 17 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The fit check followed integration earlier in the month of the Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne scramjet propulsion system into the X-51 at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif.

The X-51 test vehicle is now back at the Boeing facility in Palmdale where additional systems integration and testing are taking place in preparation for its inaugural flight test in December, said Charlie Brink, X-51 program manager from the Air Force Research Laboratory's Propulsion Directorate here.

During the flight test, currently planned Dec. 2, the Air Force Flight Test Center's B-52 will carry the X-51A to 50,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean then release it. A solid rocket booster from an Army tactical missile system then will ignite and accelerate the X-51 to about Mach 4.5. Then, the supersonic combustion ramjet propulsion system will propel the vehicle for five minutes to more than Mach 6. Hypersonic combustion generates intense heat so routing of the engine's own JP-7 fuel will help keep the engine at the desired operating temperature.

Engineers expect a great deal will be learned about hypersonic flight during the nearly 300 seconds under scramjet power. The longest-ever previous scramjet test, lasted only about 10 seconds, Brink said. As the engine ignites it will initially burn a mix of ethylene and JP-7 before switching exclusively to JP-7 fuel.

"The heart of this aircraft is its engine," Mr. Brink said. "We're really breaking new ground in our understanding of hypersonic propulsion, but our four planned test flights will also enhance our knowledge of airframe-engine integration, high-temperature materials and other technologies. Together they will help us bridge air and space."

Data from the flight will be telemetered back to Edwards before the X-51A test vehicle plunges into the Pacific.

Two B-52 flights, one captive carriage and one dress rehearsal, are planned this fall prior to the X-51's first powered flight scheduled in December, Mr. Brink said.

The X-51A WaveRider program is a joint effort by representatives from the Air Force, DARPA, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and Boeing.

PHOTO: On the flightline of Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Staff Sgt. Jonathan Young prepares to upload the X-51A WaveRider hypersonic flight test vehicle to a B-52 Stratofortress July 17 for fit testing. Two B-52 test flights are planned this fall prior to the X-51's first hypersonic scramjet flight over the Pacific Ocean scheduled in December. Representatives from the Air Force Research Laboratory, DARPA, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and Boeing are partnering on the X-51A technology demonstrator program. Sergeant Young is with the 412th Maintenance Group. (U.S. Air Force photo/Chad Bellay)
 

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flateric

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Edwards receives latest expermental aircraft

The first X-51A Scramjet Engine Demonstrator WaveRider vehicle arrived at Edwards Integrated Maintenance Facility, Building 710 June 25. The aircraft will begin ground tests July 6. Assembly was completed last month at Boeing's High Desert Assembly, Integration and Test facility at Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif. This aircraft is the first of four Static Test Vehicles, which will be used for familiarization training and an Upload and Download Test. The X-51A SED program is intended to demonstrate air breathing hypersonic propulsion using a Pratt & Whitney Rocket dyne scramjet. The 25-foot long, 4,000 pound vehicle will be carried aloft on a B-52H Stratofortress and released in the Point Mugu Sea Range. A solid rocket booster will propel it to nearly Mach 5, where the scramjet will take over and continue to propel the X-51A for another 4 minutes to nearly Mach 6. The X-51A Program Office at the Air Force Research Laboratory, Propulsion Directorate, Wright-Patterson AFB designated the Hypersonic Combined Task Force at the AFRL site at Edwards. Following the Upload and Download Test, ground tests will continue through the summer and the X-51A is scheduled to perform additional testing through winter 2010. (Air Force photo/Mike Cassidy)
 

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airrocket

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yeah baby..... US hypersonics get its groove on... still has a heart beat. The more I see of this X machine the more I like it. Anyone have detailed drawings etc....? i ignored early on since used 2D inlet when 3D inward was all the rage. Seems 2D prevails for research.
 

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B-52H takes Waverider aloft for the first time.
 

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From InsideDefense.com

AIR FORCE NOW PLANS TO CONDUCT FIRST X-51 EXPERIMENT ON MARCH 10
The Air Force plans to conduct its first X-51 WaveRider hypersonic propulsion system experiment on March 10, according to the service’s chief scientist.
 

quellish

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airrocket said:
Four test scheduled:

http://www.spacenews.com/military/100226-af-set-begin-hypersonic-flight-tests.html

Pushed back to mid-April.
 

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quellish said:
airrocket said:
Four test scheduled:

http://www.spacenews.com/military/100226-af-set-begin-hypersonic-flight-tests.html

Pushed back to mid-April.

Sounds like April could be an eventful month for hypersonics.
 

quellish

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sferrin said:
Sounds like April could be an eventful month for hypersonics.

They gave it a shot this week, but it didn't work out. So we have to wait a few weeks.
 

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why is DARPA still pouring money into this when they have a project in australia that has already achieved hypersonic flight for a fraction of the cost

http://www.uq.edu.au/hypersonics/?page=19501
 

sferrin

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lem096 said:
why is DARPA still pouring money into this when they have a project in australia that has already achieved hypersonic flight for a fraction of the cost

http://www.uq.edu.au/hypersonics/?page=19501

Why did they pour money into 747s when they already had the Wright Brothers Flyer at a fraction of the cost? ::)
 

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sferrin said:
lem096 said:
why is DARPA still pouring money into this when they have a project in australia that has already achieved hypersonic flight for a fraction of the cost

http://www.uq.edu.au/hypersonics/?page=19501

Why did they pour money into 747s when they already had the Wright Brothers Flyer at a fraction of the cost? ::)

Silly questions usually call for silly answers... but in this case I think you're being a bit unfair, Scott. You are making the question sound ridiculous by equaling it to a Wright Flyer/Boeing 747 comparison (two aircraft separated by 70 years and having virtually nothing in common), while lem096 was questioning two projects of similar technology taking place in the same timespan!

My answer in this case is that it's already difficult to get two American companies to share their research on a common project unless there is a strong market or an official incentive to do so... let alone between countries. There is no objective reason why Australia would share some cutting edge technology with another country, unless of course there is something to gain in return.
 

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Stargazer2006 said:
sferrin said:
lem096 said:
why is DARPA still pouring money into this when they have a project in australia that has already achieved hypersonic flight for a fraction of the cost

http://www.uq.edu.au/hypersonics/?page=19501

Why did they pour money into 747s when they already had the Wright Brothers Flyer at a fraction of the cost? ::)

Silly questions usually call for silly answers... but in this case I think you're being a bit unfair, Scott. You are making the question sound ridiculous by equaling it to a Wright Flyer/Boeing 747 comparison (two aircraft separated by 70 years and having virtually nothing in common), while lem096 was questioning two projects of similar technology taking place in the same timespan!

My answer in this case is that it's already difficult to get two American companies to share their research on a common project unless there is a strong market or an official incentive to do so... let alone between countries. There is no objective reason why Australia would share some cutting edge technology with another country, unless of course there is something to gain in return.

More accurately why would the US rely on a foreign government, no matter how friendly, to develop such a game changing technology. With such technology you literally want all your research groups in all the major defense contractors working on this as well as the services research arms like the AFRL, etc.
 

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Stargazer2006 said:
sferrin said:
lem096 said:
why is DARPA still pouring money into this when they have a project in australia that has already achieved hypersonic flight for a fraction of the cost

http://www.uq.edu.au/hypersonics/?page=19501

Why did they pour money into 747s when they already had the Wright Brothers Flyer at a fraction of the cost? ::)

Silly questions usually call for silly answers... but in this case I think you're being a bit unfair, Scott. You are making the question sound ridiculous by equaling it to a Wright Flyer/Boeing 747 comparison (two aircraft separated by 70 years and having virtually nothing in common), while lem096 was questioning two projects of similar technology taking place in the same timespan!

My answer in this case is that it's already difficult to get two American companies to share their research on a common project unless there is a strong market or an official incentive to do so... let alone between countries. There is no objective reason why Australia would share some cutting edge technology with another country, unless of course there is something to gain in return.

The silly answer was because the two programs aren't remotely comperable.
 

quellish

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lem096 said:
why is DARPA still pouring money into this when they have a project in australia that has already achieved hypersonic flight for a fraction of the cost

http://www.uq.edu.au/hypersonics/?page=19501

Hyshot and X-51 are testing very, very different things.
 

donnage99

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lem096 said:
why is DARPA still pouring money into this when they have a project in australia that has already achieved hypersonic flight for a fraction of the cost

http://www.uq.edu.au/hypersonics/?page=19501
Flying hypersonic isn't something new. ICBM of decades back can fly hypersonically, too. What the x-51 is trying to accomplish is something completely different. That's the same reasons DARPA have their legs in many different hypersonic programs all at once. The comparison is as different as supercruise to afterburner. Both can accomplish supersonic flight, but built on completely different concepts. Supercruise gives you the same speed, but it has huge advantage in fuel consumption and stealth.

And for those who don't know, Australia IS working with the US on this hypersonic project, though it's not on the x-51.
 

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donnage99 said:
lem096 said:
why is DARPA still pouring money into this when they have a project in australia that has already achieved hypersonic flight for a fraction of the cost

http://www.uq.edu.au/hypersonics/?page=19501
Flying hypersonic isn't something new. ICBM of decades back can fly hypersonically, too. What the x-51 is trying to accomplish is something completely different. That's the same reasons DARPA have their legs in many different hypersonic programs all at once. The comparison is as different as supercruise to afterburner. Both can accomplish supersonic flight, but built on completely different concepts. Supercruise gives you the same speed, but it has huge advantage in fuel consumption and stealth.

And for those who don't know, Australia IS working with the US on this hypersonic project, though it's not on the x-51.

Nobody has said the US isn't working with Australia on a hypersonics project. Just that THAT one has nothing to do with the X-51, HyFly, Falcon, etc.
 

donnage99

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sferrin said:
Nobody has said the US isn't working with Australia on a hypersonics project. Just that THAT one has nothing to do with the X-51, HyFly, Falcon, etc.
I wasn't directing it at you. to quote Stargazer2006:

"My answer in this case is that it's already difficult to get two American companies to share their research on a common project unless there is a strong market or an official incentive to do so... let alone between countries. There is no objective reason why Australia would share some cutting edge technology with another country, unless of course there is something to gain in return."
 

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Yeah. And I never said it was not possible nor that it wasn't already the case... Just that such collaborations do not happen unless there is something to gain in exchange!
 

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Stargazer2006 said:
Yeah. And I never said it was not possible nor that it wasn't already the case... Just that such collaborations do not happen unless there is something to gain in exchange!

I get the impression the US has it's fingers in every hypersonic program it can find that will let them in.
 

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The Aussies are into 3D hyper inward inlets concepts. The US seems to have given up on 3D inlets and have taken a step back to pre-21st century 2D designs.
 

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airrocket said:
The Aussies are into 3D hyper inward inlets concepts. The US seems to have given up on 3D inlets and have taken a step back to pre-21st century 2D designs.

Why do you say that?
 

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I believe airrocket said that because of the 2-D inlet on the X-51.
He would prefer to see a 3-D inward turning inlet.
 
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The Aussie HiFIRE8 design is unusual - top and bottom inlet / exhausts..
 

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quellish

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shockonlip said:
I believe airrocket said that because of the 2-D inlet on the X-51.
He would prefer to see a 3-D inward turning inlet.

X-51's design predates the modern inward turning inlet, and of course it's not focused on testing the inlet
 

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quellish said:
shockonlip said:
I believe airrocket said that because of the 2-D inlet on the X-51.
He would prefer to see a 3-D inward turning inlet.

X-51's design predates the modern inward turning inlet, and of course it's not focused on testing the inlet

Well, ..., not really. But good try there Quellish!

JH-APL (Billig's teaching job), were buidling them long ago, say 1980's, maybe even earlier.
And they were designing them for US Navy missile packaging, so the design goal was similar to X-51
which is a X-plane program for a stand off hypersonic cruise missile. So X-51 has some
packaging requirements for that, which also drives how it 'looks', that it is 'demonstrating'.

That word 'modern' you injected, could be interpreted to mean the latest inward turning
design interest, and those papers started to appear in the late 1990's and early 2000's.

Didn't X-51 start about 7-years ago or so (maybe 2003?). Not exactly sure.

Anyway after posting my response above last night, an idea hit me.

Namely, the waverider nature of X-51 is also quite compatible with how a
'modern' inward turning streamline-traced inlet is designed.

Namely, waverider design can start with a cone-shaped flow field!
Guess what 'modern' inward turning streamline-traced inlet design process starts with? ... yup!
You guessed it! A cone shaped flow field !
So the same cone-shaped flow field can specify the lifting surfaces of the vehicle as well as
the inlet design!!

A 'modern' inward turning streamline traced flowfield uses a cone shaped flow field ( a mathematical
description of such) and then you solve those differential equaltions and come up with the streamlines
through that flow field which define the walls of your inlet to achieve the captured mass flow, and
compression (contraction ratio), you desire.

So I guess it is quite feasible to create a streamline traced inward turning inlet that 'looks' like
a 2-D inlet, only because that's where the streamline traced lines put the walls of the inlet.

So I am quite curious if that can be done and maybe X-51 is such an inlet.
 

quellish

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shockonlip said:
JH-APL (Billig's teaching job), were buidling them long ago, say 1980's, maybe even earlier.
And they were designing them for US Navy missile packaging, so the design goal was similar to X-51
which is a X-plane program for a stand off hypersonic cruise missile. So X-51 has some
packaging requirements for that, which also drives how it 'looks', that it is 'demonstrating'.

The lineage isn't really, well, linear, but generally....
NASP->ARRMD/HyTech->SED->X-51
The ARRMD and HyTech programs were intended to preserve the NASP industrial base, specifically the propulsion system - the Strut-Jet. The catch was that all the parties involved wanted to move away from H2 and instead use hydrocarbon fuels (the dual fuel Global Reach study vehicle that became X-43 was part of this change) The waverider vehicle developed for ARRMD was itself derived from an earlier McDD design, Evader (not related to the MaRV tested in the 80s). ARRMD split into HyFly and SED-WR, which later evolved into X-51.

So the X-51 configuration as we know it today came together in the ARRMD period (1996-1998), but the vehicle, inlet, and engine do go back farther than that. The engine though moved away from the strut jet during the same period.

Somewhere I do have a copy of one of the APL inward turning inlet vehicles from the 60s. It looks like a deap sea creature with wings. I am under the impression that the inward turning inlets of the past 10 years are very different from their predecessors due to advances in modelling as well as materials/manufacturing. I had a very interesting talk with someone from MicroCraft about this a few years ago.
 

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HiFire Flight 2 payload
 

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quellish said:
shockonlip said:
JH-APL (Billig's teaching job), were buidling them long ago, say 1980's, maybe even earlier.
And they were designing them for US Navy missile packaging, so the design goal was similar to X-51
which is a X-plane program for a stand off hypersonic cruise missile. So X-51 has some
packaging requirements for that, which also drives how it 'looks', that it is 'demonstrating'.

The lineage isn't really, well, linear, but generally....
NASP->ARRMD/HyTech->SED->X-51
The ARRMD and HyTech programs were intended to preserve the NASP industrial base, specifically the propulsion system - the Strut-Jet. The catch was that all the parties involved wanted to move away from H2 and instead use hydrocarbon fuels (the dual fuel Global Reach study vehicle that became X-43 was part of this change) The waverider vehicle developed for ARRMD was itself derived from an earlier McDD design, Evader (not related to the MaRV tested in the 80s). ARRMD split into HyFly and SED-WR, which later evolved into X-51.

So the X-51 configuration as we know it today came together in the ARRMD period (1996-1998), but the vehicle, inlet, and engine do go back farther than that. The engine though moved away from the strut jet during the same period.

Somewhere I do have a copy of one of the APL inward turning inlet vehicles from the 60s. It looks like a deap sea creature with wings. I am under the impression that the inward turning inlets of the past 10 years are very different from their predecessors due to advances in modelling as well as materials/manufacturing. I had a very interesting talk with someone from MicroCraft about this a few years ago.

No, the current inward turning technology is not really different, it's just that the availability
of cheap computer power is!

So these inward turning inlets go back much earlier than the late 90's actually.

They are a type of inlet called a Busemann inlet (circa 1966).

And since I'm sure you won't believe me when I say this, let me quote a little from the
Billig/Kothari 1997 paper entitled: "Streamline Tracing: Technique for Designing Hypersonic Inlets".
pg.1. "The foundation upon which this design and evaluation tool is built is a computer based method
that generates streamline traces through axisymmetric and planar flowfields. Long before the
advent of high-speed computers, streamline tracing was successfully, albiet laboriously, used
to design the Supersonic Combustion Ramjet Missile (SCRAM). Although nearly 30 years have
passed, the performance demonstrated in the ground tests of the SCRAM engine remains
the benchmark in liquid-fuelled scramjets".

So one statement I am arguing against here, is that this technology isn't old enough to be used
on X-51. It actually is. But I'm not arguing that it is used on X-51. Although I am going to do
that little experiment I mentioned earlier.

One other aspect I may tweak a little, is that parties wanted to move away from H2 fuels
after NASP. Actually, they wanted to move away from "ALL H2" fuelled vehicles. Ths was
one of the aspects of NASP that made the vehicle so large that it was not buildable for a
low enough price. Thus the interest in dual fuels. We need more dense fuels for hypersonics.

Regards.
 

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At least one design in the British Secret Projects Hypersonics has inlets like this as does a Republic design from back in the day. I'll locate them later (unless someone beats me to it).
 

quellish

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shockonlip said:
So one statement I am arguing against here, is that this technology isn't old enough to be used
on X-51. It actually is. But I'm not arguing that it is used on X-51. Although I am going to do
that little experiment I mentioned earlier.

What I wrote may have been misleading; I am very aware that these types of inlets have been a while. There has been new interest in them from DoD because they were identified as a key enabler for specific combined cycle configurations. This would not apply to X-51, which does not operate over the speed range DARPA was interested in for the vehicles that were to have the inlet.
There has, though, been continued interest in it for VULCAN.
So to be more accurate:
"X-51 predates the most recent resurgence of interest in inward turning inlets for hypersonic flight, and is focused on goals other that directly demonstrating new or novel inlet configurations".
(you can't really say it's not demonstrating inlet integration, but that is not a stated goal of the programs)

shockonlip said:
One other aspect I may tweak a little, is that parties wanted to move away from H2 fuels
after NASP. Actually, they wanted to move away from "ALL H2" fuelled vehicles. Ths was
one of the aspects of NASP that made the vehicle so large that it was not buildable for a
low enough price. Thus the interest in dual fuels. We need more dense fuels for hypersonics.

For the programs mentioned there were specific goals to move away from H2, and to demonstrate using hydrocarbon fuels for cooling, etc. Initially ARRMD was to use endothermic fuel (I do not have details on exactly what), and later JP-7. From ARRMD on there was not much mention at all of dual fuel, only hydrocarbons (as far as I have seen).
 

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"X-51 predates the most recent resurgence of interest in inward turning inlets for hypersonic flight, and is
focused on goals other that directly demonstrating new or novel inlet configurations".

I think that is a good response to airrocket.

To encourage him that all is not lost with inward turning inlets.
 

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quellish said:
The lineage isn't really, well, linear, but generally....
NASP->ARRMD/HyTech->SED->X-51
The ARRMD and HyTech programs were intended to preserve the NASP industrial base, specifically the propulsion system - the Strut-Jet. The catch was that all the parties involved wanted to move away from H2 and instead use hydrocarbon fuels (the dual fuel Global Reach study vehicle that became X-43 was part of this change) The waverider vehicle developed for ARRMD was itself derived from an earlier McDD design, Evader (not related to the MaRV tested in the 80s). ARRMD split into HyFly and SED-WR, which later evolved into X-51.

So the X-51 configuration as we know it today came together in the ARRMD period (1996-1998), but the vehicle, inlet, and engine do go back farther than that. The engine though moved away from the strut jet during the same period.

Is this perhaps one of the above mentioned vehicles?

index.php


(See also http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,4295.0.html)
 

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If you're talking about sferrin's comments above, this is one, namely the Republic design:
http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,5641.msg45312.html#msg45312
 

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Meteorit said:
Is this perhaps one of the above mentioned vehicles?

The configuration as we know it today was locked down during ARRMD, this appears to be an early iteration of it. It's possible that this is the Evader that was the starting point.
 

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Some more Queensland designs that use the same inward turning module:
 

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shockonlip said:
If you're talking about sferrin's comments above, this is one, namely the Republic design:
http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,5641.msg45312.html#msg45312

I'm talking about the picture in my post in relation to quellish's comments quoted in my post.

The configuration as we know it today was locked down during ARRMD, this appears to be an early iteration of it. It's possible that this is the Evader that was the starting point.

Thank you for the answer.
 

flateric

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a PSed launch and another photo
 

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Ian33

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_9avKf96GM

Short YouTube video with some close ups and ground testing, and below is a small resized pic of the X-51 in the chamber during testing.

x51a.jpg
 

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