Source: New Scientist, May 15-21, 2010
Straight outta the pages of CONTAGIOUS comes the X-51, a new "scramjet" designed to hit Mach 6 for up to five minutes. Scramjets have hit speeds as high as Mach 10, but only for a few seconds.
In the last week of May, 2010, thousands of square miles of airspace will be cleared out for this test of the X-51. Everyone will watch and get excited, then scientists will do what scientists do, which is gather data. This is similar to Carlos Santana in the song "Santana DVX" saying, "I see you bitches is enjoying my sparkling wine!"
In CONTAGIOUS, President Guiterrez authorizes the use of the HTV-6Xb, an experimental fighter designed to fly at Mach 10. At that speed, the HTV-6Xb, also known as "The Wasp," can cover 1,700 miles -- from Groom Lake, NV to South Bend, IN -- in 15 minutes.
How do it work? Excerpt from CONTAGIOUS:
This particular combat mission didn’t take a great deal of skill. Lindeman had taken off on a northwest heading, flown to 10,000 feet, then come around in a slow turn that pointed his nose towards South Bend, Indiana. The conventional jet turbine engines drove the Wasp to Mach 2. At that speed, turbines’ the air inlets closed off, forcing that same air intake into the scramjet engines. The turbines had to shut off, because once the plane reached Mach 3 or so, air friction would melt the spinning intake fans. The scramjet portion, however, was more like a funnel — it had no moving parts. Air shot in a supersonic speeds, compressed, mixed with a gaseous fuel, and ignited in a highly controlled reaction that drove the plane to mach 10.