U.S. Air Force Sleds That Travel at Mach 8.6 Are Too Fast For a Camera

The U.S. Airforce sent a rocket-powered sled down the 10-mile railway at the Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, where it reached a top speed of 6,599 mph. No, it is not a typo. The hypersonic sled was traveling at 1.83 miles per second. Let that sink in.

How fast is 1.83 miles per second?

For an object or a projectile to leave Earth’s gravitational pull, it must reach Earth’s escape velocity of seven miles per second.

That means that any rocket that goes to space has to travel at seven miles per second (25,200 mph).

However, rockets or anything else that can reach that velocity manage to achieve it in an area of space with the minimal atmosphere. No oxygen, no particles of dust, and no friction to hamper its progress to high speed.

That makes this result of 6,599 mph at a 4,093 feet above sea level that much more impressive. See, the atmosphere around us is a medium in which we can thrive. It’s matter made from particles of nitrogen, oxygen, argon, and carbon dioxide. It is for us what water is for the fish. It has mass, density, volume, and all that jazz. So, while a human on its own cannot reach speeds high enough to feel just how heavy and powerful that air around us is, machines can. At higher speeds, you really start to feel it.

In fact, the Bugatti Veyron, a car fitted with a 1000-horsepower engine, apparently can sustain 80 mph with only 50 horsepower. To achieve and maintain a top speed of 267.856 mph, it needs 950 horsepower more. Those 950 horsepowers are there to fight two things - the air surrounding us all and friction. And remember, we are talking here about low speeds. At least looking at it from the perspective of the 6,599 mph-capable rocket-powered sled.

So, the sheer power needed to accelerate this amazing sled at 6,599 mph is so immense that I am not even able to imagine it. I can imagine the speed of it, however.

The circumference of the Earth is 24,901 miles. Moving at 1.83 miles per second, these sleds would travel around the world in 227 minutes.

That’s under four hours. There’s a problem, tough. The rails the U.S. Air Force tested this contraption at are only 10 miles long.

Why does the U.S. Air Force need sleds that can travel at hypersonic speed?

For testing purposes. No one exactly knows what these sleds carried, and that’s the problem for anyone with hostile intentions toward the free world. See, the Air Force probably tested what kind of acceleration and deceleration the gear on board this sled could cope with. I firmly believe that this test is part of a much larger army operation called the PGS.

"Prompt Global Strike (PGS) is a United States military effort to develop a system that can deliver a precision-guided conventional weapon airstrike anywhere in the world within one hour." The U.S. can already do something similar to this with its ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missiles), however, sometimes you need something more subtle than a missile. That something may have been hiding on this rocket-powered sleds.

While at that, I have to tell you that sometime before, the U.S. thought of launching satellites that would carry 20-feet long tungsten rods.

They would serve for a so-called kinetic bombardment. The satellite would release one rod and let the Earths gravity to the rest of the job. Small thrusters would guide them, but nothing too fancy. The result would be a "global strike capability, with impact speeds of Mach 10."


Here's a Hypersonic Sled Travelling at More Than 1 Mile Per Second
- image 862070

Whatever the case, the AirForce sleds did prove one thing - the U.S. Air Force is testing something that should be able to sustain temperatures, stress, speeds, and vibrations involved with extreme acceleration and travel at high speeds.

Nevertheless, the video showcased here doesn’t show much. Sleds traveling at Mach 8.6 are too fast for a camera. Even if you slow down the footage to 1/4th of the normal speed, you won’t be able to see anything of consequence. Heck, all of this looks like a sequence from some game set in some future world. On another planet.

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: