Friday, February 01, 2008

Rocket Sled Land Speed Record (Update: Not Quite)

Update 6Feb08: Looks like preliminary data was in error. Although the Navy got the test results it wanted, the old record (held by the same track) stands. dang. Original post beyond this point:

Looks like somebody had a long day yesterday, finishing up with a big bang just before ‘quiet hours’. From the press release:
“On 31 Jan. 2008, at 9:20 p.m., Mountain Standard Time, the Holloman High Speed Test Track conducted a Navy Test with a Sandia-designed payload. Initial indications are the test was successful and the payload reached a velocity of 6,589 miles per hour. This test is 136 miles per hour faster that the existing land speed record of 6,453 miles per hour – setting a new world record.”
The sled covered “3.61 miles in about 6 seconds” and while no one is yet saying what the payload was, it sounds like there is an interesting application in mind:
“The detonation of the payload at the north end of the track and speed of the sled created multiple sonic booms felt throughout the Tularosa Basin.”
The previous record (also held by the Holloman track) stood for 20 years before falling in 2003. Seems we may be “accelerating” things these days in more ways than one.

Update 01/02 @ 09:41 & corrected @19:49
A photo of the payload is now posted here. Believe it or not, the payload has only a superficial resemblance to these, so I wouldn't jump to any conclusions from the similarity. When you go really fast in an atmosphere, there is only a limited number of shapes that make any sense.

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