Hypersonic superjet technology successfully tested in Australia

A joint US-Australian military research team successfully tested a hypersonic technology in the Australian desert.

In the test, scramjet attached to a rocket booster was successfully sent to an altitude of 278 km at Mach 7.5 (seven times the speed of sound).

The team was running a series of 10 trials of the hypersonic technology at the world’s largest land testing range located at Woomera in Australia and at Norway’s Andoya Rocket Range.

Key facts

  • Hypersonic flight involves travelling at more than 5 times the speed of sound (Mach 5).
  • For this purpose, scientists working in the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE) programme are developing an engine that can fly at Mach 7 speed. HiFiRE programme consists of a scramjet engine attached to a rocket booster.
  • Scramjet: It is a supersonic combustion engine that uses oxygen from the atmosphere for fuel. It is lighter and faster than fuel-carrying rockets and is suitable for flying at hypersonic (Mach 5 and above) speed.
  • Scramjet engines do not have moving parts. It has rotating compressor and turbine in a jet engine. In the engine, air is compressed and expanded by complex systems of shockwaves located in front of the aircraft.
  • Significance: It is a game-changing technology that could revolutionise global air travel, and also provide cost-effective access to space. It can be very useful as an alternative to a rocket for putting satellites into space.

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Categories: Science and Technology Current Affairs - 2017

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