- The Washington Times - Monday, July 15, 2002

London Daily Telegraph
SYDNEY, Australia A test launch of a supersonic jetliner envisaged to replace the Concorde ended in failure yesterday when a 36-foot model spiraled out of control before crashing and exploding in the South Australian desert.
The spectacular setback to the Japanese superjet project, which has taken five years to bring to the testing stage, came seconds after takeoff at Woomera, the site of a long-abandoned British rocket testing range.
Scientists had spent six months preparing to launch the model of a jet that they hope will one day fly twice the range of and carry three times as many passengers as the Concorde, while reducing the sonic boom to the rumble of a standard jumbo jet.
The model was supposed to ride piggyback on a booster rocket to a height of 12.5 miles at a speed of more than 1,500 mph. The booster should then have performed a barrel roll and released the model, which was to glide back to Earth at twice the speed of sound in a test flight taking 14 minutes.
Instead, the aircraft separated from its booster during the launch. Kimio Sakata, director of the team that developed the model, said: "There's a little disappointment. We have to redesign and re-manufacture some of the components. After that we would like to have another launch."
Witnesses said the rocket climbed to around 330 feet before turning over and spiraling erratically through the air. It then slammed to the ground and burst into flames.
Equipped with 900 sensors to assess its performance, the model was unmanned and nobody was injured.
The National Experimental Supersonic Transport project is a push by Japan's National Aerospace Laboratory to create a new generation of supersonic commercial airliners.


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