America’s military-industrial complex is both a blessing, and a curse. Many technologies we today take for granted like, GPS and the Internet, have their roots in military projects. Then again, there are some pretty ridiculous expenditures of money, like the research documented in books like The Men Who Stare At Goats.
From The New World To The Old In 2 Hours
Somewhere in between are projects like the Mach 6-capable X-51A WaveRider jet, a Boeing-built rocket jet capable of speeds of more than 4,300 mph. Or at least it would be if it didn’t disintegrate 15 seconds into its most recent test flight
The U.S. military is one of the world leaders in alternative fuel research, from hybrid HUMVEEs to plant-powered fighter jets. The X-51A WaveRider is a project designed to test the capability of extremely high-speed flight that would allow the military to deploy weapon payloads, troops, and emergency aid in a matter of hours, rather than days. The WaveRider jet could make the trip from New York City to London in about an hour’s time.
A Worthy Investment
The most recent test flight happened yesterday off of the California coast, where the X-51A was launched from a modified B-52 bomber. The unmanned WaveRider jet lasted just 15 seconds in the air before a tailfin issue meant that controllers had to remotely destroy it. At a cost of $140 million, this wasn’t a cheap test flight…but as with alternative fuels, an initial investment can pay incredible dividends down the road.
While this project isn’t specifically linked to alternative fuel research, I think it is a great representation of what this country is capable of. If politicians think a project like the WaveRider is a worthy investment (and I am with them, as anything that makes flying a quicker process is awesome by me) then biofuel and other alternatives are certainly worthy of similar investment.