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Aussies go for scramjet gold

Masters of water and air

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The Australians have apparently succeeded where NASA spectacularly failed in firing up an experimental scramjet. The news has caused much excitement at Vulture Central with the prospect of the hypersonic flying car we were promised in the early 1970s now one step closer to realisation.

The scramjet has no moving parts and uses atmospheric oxygen - mixed with a little on-board hydrogen - to create thrust at speeds greater than Mach 5.

Scientists at the outback Woomera range are hoping that data from the 8-minute flight will confirm that the engine - housed in the nose of a conventional rocket - will have operated for around ten seconds at a top speed of Mach 7.6. If so, it is the first time that a scramjet has been successfully fired in the open atmosphere.

All in all, the Aussies are having a good week in the speed stakes, with swimmer Ian Thorpe, AKA Thorpedo, looking set to gain seven gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester. Is there no stopping the Sons of the Lucky Country? ®

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More on the scramjet test from the BBC

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