NASA Plane Breaks World Speed Record
28 Mar 2004, 00:54 UTC
NASA says it has set a new flying world speed record.
The U.S. government space agency launched its X-43A pilotless plane Saturday, which briefly flew at seven times the speed of sound before plunging into the Pacific Ocean.
The little jet, released from the wing of a launch plane in mid-air, zoomed at slightly more than Mach 7 (about 8,500 kilometers-an-hour) at its fastest moment.
The three-and-a-half meter long aircraft had a cross between a jet engine and a rocket engine, known as a scramjet. The previous world record for speed by a winged aircraft was set at Mach 6.7 in 1967.
In 2001, a similar test-flight ended when the jet veered off course and NASA destroyed it.