DRDO test fires Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle
India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) conducted maiden test of an indigenously developed Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) from launch pad number-4 of Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha Coast.
It is an unmanned scramjet demonstration aircraft. It is designed to cruise at Mach 6 speed with scramjet engine.
Background: In 2008, DRDO stated that through HSTDV project idea was to demonstrate performance of a scram-jet engine at an altitude of 15 km to 20 km, is on. Thus under this project, DRDO developed a hypersonic vehicle that will be powered by a scram-jet engine.
Applications: HSTDV is dual-use technology thus with a scramjet engine, HSTDV can cruise at Mach 6 speed and can have multiple civilian applications. It can be used for launching satellites at low cost and can also be available for long-range cruise missiles of future.
Key Highlights of Test
Method: In test conducted, a missile mounted with technology demonstrator vehicle is launched and vehicle is released only after missile reaches a certain altitude and velocity.
Reason for launch: The launch of technology demonstrator vehicle was undertaken to prove a number of critical technologies for futuristic missions and to validate several technologies including HSTDV.
Analysis: The HSDTV was supposed to fire and fly on its own after being carried to an altitude of around 30-40 km by solid rocket motor of an Agni-I ballistic missile in test but after launch, Agni-I booster went into an uncontrolled mode and could not achieve desired altitude. Some technologies have been validated while some remained inconclusive of which data is being analysed.
Scram-jet system v/s Ram jet system
In scram-jet technology, fuel combustion takes place in a chamber in missile at supersonic speeds while in a ram jet system, the system collects air it needs from atmosphere during flight at subsonic speeds and propellants burn in combustion chamber.