Tag Archives: scramjet

India tests scramjet successfully

The competition heats up: Using a newly developed suborbital sounding rocket, India today successfully tested its first scramjet engines.

The scramjet engine, used only during the atmospheric phase of the rocket’s flight, will help in bringing down the launch cost by reducing the amount of oxidiser to be carried, along with the fuel. Later, the ISRO in a statement said: “With this flight, critical technologies such as ignition of air-breathing engines at supersonic speed, holding the flame at supersonic speed, air intake mechanism and fuel injection systems have been successfully demonstrated.” The scramjet engine designed by ISRO uses hydrogen as fuel and the oxygen from the atmospheric air as the oxidiser.

The real question is whether India can do something that NASA has never been able to do, go beyond tests and get a scramjet engine installed in a rocket and put it to use. NASA’s history is filled with many similar test programs, each hailed as great achievements that will someday revolutionize the launch industry, and then forgotten and shelved.

India to test reusable mini-shuttle in May

The competition heats up: ISRO, India’s space agency, this week announced plans to conduct its first test flight of its half-scale prototype reusable launch vehicle in May.

The RLV, is a scaled-down prototype (some 21.3 feet in length or 6.5 meters) of a future uncrewed single-stage reusable spaceplane, known as Avatar, that is being designed by the ISRO. The May mission will be a technology demonstrator (RLV-TD) to test powered cruise flight, autonomous landing and hypersonic flight using an air-breathing propulsion system. The spacecraft, which resembles a small winged aircraft, will be launched from the first launchpad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre to an altitude of 43 miles (70 km) atop a two-stage Rohini sounding rocket and then released. It will re-enter the atmosphere and travel back to Earth in a controlled descent, to be recovered from the Bay of Bengal. [emphasis mine]

This vehicle is kind of Inida’s version of the Air Force’s X-37B, except that it is also testing a hypersonic scramjet engine, a cutting edge design that the U.S. has barely been able to fly successfully. Should they succeed, it will place them smack dab in the middle of the elite club of space-faring nations.

An Australia test flight of a scramjet engine ended in failure today when the rocket carrying the engine failed to reach the require elevation for the test to begin.

An Australia test flight of a scramjet engine ended in failure today when the rocket carrying the engine failed to reach the require elevation for the test to begin.

After four tries the Air Force X-51A Waverider test craft finally succeeded in achieving sustained, scramjet-powered, air-breathing hypersonic flight above Mach 5 in its final test flight on May 1.

After four tries the Air Force X-51A Waverider test craft finally succeeded in achieving sustained, scramjet-powered, air-breathing hypersonic flight above Mach 5 in its final test flight on May 1.

The Air Force has released its investigation into the failure of the August test flight of the X-51a hypersonic scramjet.

The Air Force has released its investigation into the failure of the August test flight of the X-51a hypersonic scramjet.

As first surmised, the problem was a control fin. Though they haven’t set the date for the next test flight, it appears they do intend to proceed.

A test flight of an Air Force hypersonic aircraft failed yesterday when it went out of control before its experimental scramjet engine could be started

A test flight of an Air Force hypersonic aircraft failed yesterday when it went out of control before its experimental scramjet engine could be started.

Though failures during engineering tests are not really failures, as the goal is to find out if the engineering works or doesn’t, this particular failure is a bit more like a real failure. They never got to test the scramjet engine, which was the point of the entire flight. Instead, they had a failure of a control fin on the aircraft, and it appears that this fin was “faulty.” Not a good sign, especially as the previous flight in June 2011 also failed prematurely.