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Deep Dive–Special In-Depth Report #4 Spaceplane development is becoming the newest frontier in the emerging space development competition between the U.S. and China. Winged spaceplanes operate as spacecraft in space and aircraft in Earth’s atmosphere, and typically land on runways. They range from hypersonic cruise vehicles (HCV)s capable of maneuvering at Mach 5+ (3,800+ mph/6,125+ kmh) or more to reusable launch vehicles (RLV)s like the Space Shuttle designed primarily to ferry cargo to orbit and back. This is a difficult area to master, and U.S. programs have experienced a variety of problems. Yesterday (14 August 2012), instead of reaching Mach 6 as envisioned, Boeing’s X-51 WaveRider unmanned supersonic combustion ramjet (scramjet) demonstrator aircraft went out of control and plunged into the Pacific before its engine could be ignited. The failure…