Soaring at Hyperspeed: Long-sought technology finally propels a plane

11:36am, March 31, 2004

Traveling 29,000 meters above Earth, a small unmanned craft last week became the first airplane to fly powered by an exotic type of engine known as a scramjet. The wedge-shaped vehicle, called an X-43A or Hyper-X, separated from its booster rocket and zoomed at a hypersonic speed of seven times the speed of sound—a record for air-breathing jet planes.

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