Status: Retired 2004. First Launch: 2001-06-02. Last Launch: 2004-11-16. Number: 3 . Thrust: 726.00 kN (163,211 lbf). Gross mass: 18,800 kg (41,400 lb). Height: 14.90 m (48.80 ft). Diameter: 1.28 m (4.19 ft). Apogee: 40 km (24 mi).
Hypersonic scramjet vehicle test. The X-43A/Pegasus booster combination was air-launched at 7600 m altitude. However the booster disintegrated at Max-Q. The redesign of the launch profile and modifications to the booster would take NASA almost three years. Air dropped in Point Arguello WADZ.
The second X-43 launch incorporated modifications to the first flight vehicle, including an upgraded control system, redesigned autopilot, off-loaded rocket motor, and improved analytical models. The second flight was launched at 12,200 m instead of the 7600 m altitude of the failed first launch to reduce transonic aerodynamic loads and improve structural and control system margins. An offloaded Orion 50S solid rocket motor reduced maximum dynamic pressure during the flight. Air dropped in Point Arguello WADZ.
Delayed from September, November 9 and 15. Final test of NASA's X-43A-3 Hyper X hypersonic scramjet demonstrated air-frame integrated scramjet performance at speeds approaching Mach 10. Changes to the launch vehicle compared to Flight 2 included high-temperature thermal protection system tiles on the wing and fin leading edge, elimination of all ballast, a full propellant load on the ATK Orion 50S booster, lightweight aluminum structures, and updated control laws and aerodynamics. Air dropped in Point Arguello WADZ.