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.
- 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.