Here’s a small break from all the Libya info we’ve been bringing you this week. Apparently, the second test flight Air Force’s X-51A Waverider hypersonic test vehicle was scrapped at the last minute yesterday.
The X-51A was strapped to a B-52 bomber from Edwards Air Force Base over the Point Mugu Sea Range off the California coast when test officials cancelled the flight, according to an Air Force announcement.
The mission was cancelled because, “all required test conditions could not be met.” Who knows what that means? An Air Force spokesman couldn’t comment to DT about what caused the delay.
The cancellation could have been due to anything from a technical glitch with the X-51A, the B-52 or even a random ship passing through the test range; an earlier test flight was delayed when a freight ship passed through Point Mugu’s test range. You’d think that military officials could temporarily restrict passage through the range when test shots are scheduled.
Here’s one possible clue; the Air Force’s statement goes on to say that another flight will be scheduled “following a check of the system and when range and test assets can again be aligned.”
This may be a standard post-flight check or it could indicate that it was a technical glitch, not bad weather or a ship passing across the Waverider’s flight path that led to the cancellation of the flight.
Service officials also can’t commit on when the next flight will be. Simple things like the availability of Point Mugu’s test range or Edwards’ B-52 mothership can delay a test flight, and that’s if there’s nothing wrong with the X-51A.
The Waverider’s first hypersonic flight last year was terminated at the halfway mark when hot engine gases seeped into the airframe cutting off communications with flight controllers.