China Conducts Test Launch of Sky Star-2 Waverider Hypersonic Flight Vehicle

China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA) has conducted a test launch of its Sky Star-2 waverider hypersonic flight vehicle at the northwest test range on August 3 morning.

During its 10 minute-long flight, the rocket completed active phase turning, stage/fairing separation, flight vehicle autonomous flight and high maneuvering turning.

A waverider is a hypersonic aircraft design that improves its supersonic lift-to-drag ratio by using the shock waves being generated by its own flight as a lifting surface, a phenomenon known as compression lift. The waverider remains a well-studied design for high-speed aircraft in the Mach 5 and higher hypersonic regime, although no such design has yet entered production.

These high speed systems can be easily weaponized by either equipping it with a conventional or nuclear payload or by simply using the immense kinetic energy unleashed by their speed to destroy their targets. This maneuverable systems can also evade any existing or prospective countermeasures.

The United States is the front runner of the autonomous waveriding technology with its experimental Boeing X-51A Waverider unmanned, autonomous supersonic combustion ramjet (scramjet)-powered hypersonic flight test demonstrator developed for the U.S. Air Force. The demonstration aircraft was tested from 2010 to 2013. In its final test flight, it reached a speed of to Mach 5.1 (5,400 km/h; 3,400 mph).

X-51A Waverider
An Air Force Flight Test Center B-52 Stratofortress from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., carries an X-51A Waverider prior to the scramjet’s first hypersonic flight test on March 26, 2010. Air Force engineers have made design modifications to the three remaining X-51A demonstrators and plan to resume the hypersonic flight test program in early spring of 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo)

To date the only manned aircraft to use the waveriding technique was the Mach 3 supersonic XB-70 Valkyrie developed by North American Aviation as a prototype version of the planned B-70 nuclear-armed, deep-penetration strategic bomber for the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command.

North American XB-70 Valkyrie
North American XB-70 Valkyrie. NASA Photo

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