The relentless pursuit of hypersonic flight
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NASA’s experimental X-15 aircraft could achieve speeds well above Mach 6—fast enough to fly from Los Angeles to Washington, DC, in half an hour. Although the X-15 was retired in 1968, the pursuit of hypersonic flight has continued apace. Ivett Leyva describes scientists’ ongoing efforts to understand and overcome the many challenges posed by high-speed flight.