Scramjet Prototype Has a Successful Flight

Article written: 31 Jul , 2002
Updated: 24 Mar , 2012
by

Image credit: University of Queensland

A new jet designed to travel more than 7 times the speed of sound has been successfully tested in the Australian desert. The prototype Hyshot engine is a scramjet; unlike a traditional chemical rocket which carries heavy liquid oxygen in gigantic fuel tanks, a scramjet pulls the oxygen it needs from the atmosphere. The engine was strapped to a traditional rocket and lifted up to an altitude of 300 km at which point the scramjet kicked in and accelerated it towards the Earth – hopefully reaching a speed of 8,600 km/hour before it crashed.

University of Queensland researchers say the launch of the HyShot experiment at the Woomera Prohibited Range today was successful.

?So far it has all gone to plan. The launch was a success, and we received data for the duration of the flight,? said HyShot program team leader Dr Allan Paull.

The aim of the experiment is to achieve the world`s first flight test of air-breathing supersonic ramjet engines, also known as scramjets. These engines could revolutionise the launch of small space payloads, such as communications satellites, by substantially lowering costs.

Today?s launch of a Terrier Orion Mk70 rocket fitted with a scramjet engine took place at 1135 local time (1205 AEST).

Dr Paull said although the signs so far have been positive, it is still too early to say the scramjet experiment has succeeded. The scramjet experiment took place within only the last few seconds of the flight, lasting almost 10 minutes.

?Hopefully we?ll be in a better position to make that assessment in the next couple of days, but at the moment I?m feeling confident,? he said.

?Nevertheless, even at this early stage we have achieved what no else has managed to do, helping put Australia at the forefront on this new technology.

?I would like to thank all consortium partners, in particular the Aircraft Research and Development Unit, Australian Defence (ARDU) and the Defence Science and Technology, Organisation (DSTO).?

Other consortium partners include Astrotech Space Operations, DTI and GASL, QinetiQ, NASA Langley Research Center, Seoul National University, the DLR (German Aerospace Center), NAL (National Aerospace lab. Japan), AFRL (Air Force Research Laboratory, USA), Australian Space Research Institute (ASRI), Institute of Engineers Australia (IEAust), UniQuest and the Australian Department of Defence.

Australian firms, Alesi Technologies, NQEA, AECA, Luxfer Australia and Jet Air Cargo, and BAE Systems Australia are also involved.

Original Source: UQ News Release


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