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X-43A destroyed after going off course
Posted: Sat, Jun 2, 2001, 10:18 PM ET (0218 GMT)
X-43A illustration (Orbital) A NASA X-43A experimental aircraft was destroyed Saturday afternoon after it and the Pegasus rocket boosting the vehicle went off course seconds after launch. A malfunction occurred five seconds after the Pegasus was released from a B-52 aircraft flying off the California coast at 4:45 pm EDT (2045 GMT) Saturday. Range safety officers destroyed the booster, and debris fell into restricted waters. The cause of the mishap is unknown; NASA Dryden officials said in a press release that a "team of qualified personnel" was being put together to look into the incident. The flight was the first of three planned the X-43A, a small, unpiloted aircraft designed to test scramjet technology. NASA had planned to fly this vehicle to Mach 7, with two other flights planned for later this year and early next year aiming for Mach 10. Since each X-43A vehicle is designed for only one test flight, this failure will not affect the agency's ability to perform the additional tests although the timetable for those flights is now subject to change.
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