A new experimental airplane may one day change how we travel forever. The X-51A WaveRider plane is going to make an historic test flight of just 300 seconds this week, and if successful, could open up a plethora of new possibilities.
The plane could fly from New York to Los Angeles in just 46 minutes, going 3,600 miles per hour. That’s five times the speed of sound and the plane would be riding its own shockwave.
In the experimental flight, the WaveRider is going to be launched from a B-52 bomber at 50,000 feet in the air, right over the Pacific Ocean.
“Attaining sustained hypersonic flight is like going from propeller-driven aircraft to jet aircraft,” says Air Force Research Laboratory engineer Robert A. Mercier
So far, the longest that the WaveRider has gone at Mach 6 is two and a half minutes.
Don’t plan on booking your flight on the planes just yet, however. WaveRider tests are primarily for the military, not civilians. This would allow them to deliver missiles faster than ever before. But it is not out of the question that the technology could be used for civilians at some point.
According to the site Globalsecurity.org, the cost of the WaveRider project is $140 million.