Here's an interesting rocket-related article I spotted in the news today:
Rocket-Powered Sled Sets Speed Record
.c The Associated Press
HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AP) - A rocket-powered sled shot down a 3-mile
straightaway in about six seconds to break a world record that had stood for
The monorail sled set the land speed mark for rail vehicles early Wednesday at
the Holloman High Speed Test Track, testing a 192-pound bullet-shaped payload
being developed by the 846th Test Squadron and the Missile Defense Agency.
The test, in a remote area of the base, started with a brilliant, multihued
blaze of rocket engines and ended in a spray of sparks when a missile carried
by the sled slammed into an immobile target. There was silence until a split
second before the end, when earsplitting bursts rolled across the desert floor.
``Psychologically, you think it's over. But then comes the sonic boom. I know
it's coming. But I always jump a little,'' said Lt. Col. Russ Kurtz, director
Preliminary numbers put the sled's speed at Mach 8.6 - almost nine times the
speed of sound - or about 6,400 mph, said Lt. Col. James Jolliffe, 846th Test
Squadron commander. The previous record was Mach 8, or 6,122 mph, set on Oct.
5, 1982, also at Holloman.
``There were a lot of high five's, hugs, handshakes all around,'' Jolliffe
said. ``My hat's off to all the people that made it happen.''
The sled was designed to cover the first 1.4 miles in 4.65 seconds, then speed
up in the final stages and cover 1.8 miles in 1.3 seconds, Kurtz said. At the
end, bolts were detonated to allow the missile to detach from the sled and
successfully hit its target.
An upgrade, started in 1997, converted the sled to a double, narrow-gauge
track, reducing vibration and allowing faster speeds.
Base spokesman Bob Pepper had no information on whether any higher speeds had
been reached by land vehicles other than sleds, because the base doesn't do
other types of land speed experiments.