The NASA X-43A hypersonic research vehicle and its Pegasus booster
rocket, mounted beneath the wing of their B-52 mother ship, had a
successful captive-carry flight Jan. 26, 2004. A dress rehearsal for
the subsequent free flight, the captive-carry flight kept the
X-43A-and-Pegasus combination attached to the B-52’s wing pylon
throughout the two-hour mission. The flight originated from NASA’s
Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.,
flying over the Pacific Missile Test Range, and back to Dryden.

After taking off from Dryden at 3:21 p.m. PST, the B-52 crossed the
California coast on a predetermined flight path, and returned to
Dryden for a 5:28 p.m. PST landing.

"The flight went very smoothly. Our only concern was potential
turbulence at high altitudes but as it turned out we didn’t have
any," said Paul Reukauf, Dryden’s X-43A deputy project manager. "We
met all our objectives for the flight now."

Reukauf said the team is now readying for a launch of the X-43A,
tentatively scheduled for Feb. 21. This high-risk exploration of
supersonic combustion ramjet (scramjet) technology, intended to take
place at seven times the speed of sound, will be conducted in
restricted Navy airspace over the ocean.