The American X-24A wingless research aircraft made its first attempt to pass the speed of sound on Wednesday (August 26th).
The American X-24A wingless research aircraft made its first attempt to pass the speed of sound on Wednesday (August 26th). But two of its rocket engines failed to fire, and the pilot decided to make a low-speed flight, and landed safely at Edwards Air Force Base, in California.
The X-24A was taken into the air under the wing of a B-52 Stratofortress bomber, and launched at 43,000 feet (about 13,000 metres). The pilot said he received a satisfactory signal just before the launching, but that only two of the four rocket motors fired. The reason for the failure is now being investigated.
The aircraft, which is 24 1/2 ft. (7.4 metres) long, and shaped like a flat-iron with angled fins on each side, is being developed jointly by the United States Air Force and NASA (The National Aeronautics and Space Administration), to investigate the possibilities of a manoeuvrable space re-entry vehicle.
The aircraft was delivered to the U.S. Air Force in 1967, and made its first flight in April 1969. previous test flights have taken it up to 9 mach, and this latest, the 17th in the series, was planned to take it up to I.I. mach or 724 miles in hour. But because of the partial engine failure, the aircraft flew at only 420 miles an hour before being brought safely down.