The US Air Force has announced the X-60A programme has completed its Critical Design Review. The programme now moves into the fabrication phase. The initial flight of the vehicle, scheduled in about a year, is based out of Cecil Spaceport in Jacksonville, Florida.
A key part of the X-60A programme is that the US Federal Aviation Administration-licensed Cecil Spaceport provides a diversification in hypersonic flight testing to traditional Department of Defense flight test ranges.
Additionally, this is the first US Air Force Small Business Innovative Research program to receive an experimental “X” designation, in a long line of historical X-planes that includes hypersonic vehicles such as the X-15 and X-51A.
An AFRL statement said: “AFRL’s motivation for the X-60A programme is to increase the frequency of flight testing while lowering the cost of maturing hypersonic technologies in relevant flight conditions. While hypersonic ground test facilities are vital in technology development, we must also test those technologies with actual hypersonic flight conditions.
“The X-60A rocket vehicle propulsion system is the Hadley liquid rocket engine, which utilises liquid oxygen and kerosene propellants. The system is designed to provide affordable and regular access to high dynamic pressure flight conditions above Mach 5.”
Source: US Air Force