Feeds

US scramjet hits Mach 5

Jet fuel-powered test flight

High performance access to file storage

US defence contractor Alliant Techsystems has successfully tested a rocket-launched scramjet at Mach 5.5. The project, in association with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Office of Naval Research (ONR) - and which forms part of the Freeflight Atmospheric Scramjet Test Technique (FASTT) programme - did not reach the heady Mach 10 achieved by the hydrogen-fuelled X-43A back in November 2004, but it is the first "freeflight of a scramjet-powered vehicle using conventional liquid hydrocarbon jet fuel".

The FASTT vehicle was launched from the Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Virginia, on Saturday 10 December. The 106-inch, 11-inch diameter vehicle was blasted to 60,000 feet by its booster rocket, at which point it separated from the booster and "the Scramjet engine ignited and propelled the vehicle at approximately 5,300 feet per second - or Mach 5.5". After around 15 seconds of propelled flight during which "critical engineering data was captured via on-board sensors and tracking radars", the FASTT descended for an Atlantic splash-down.

According to Alliant Techsystems: "The ground-launched flight test demonstrated a viable and cost-effective flight-test method for future hypersonic Scramjet initiatives."

The X-43A is also rocket-boosted before the scramjet kicks in, but is launched from beneath a B52 at around 40,000ft. Some scientists have high hope for the technology, given that its use of atmospheric oxgen to mix with the fuel represents a considerable weight saving. Furthermore, it has relatively few moving parts compared with a traditional jet turbine.

However, and as we previously noted, a scaled-up X-43C programme - part of the HyperX project to develop alternative space launch technologies - was canned back in January 2004 when the US "committed to conventional rocket-powered space vehicles currently being planned as part of NASA's Constellation project". ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Saturn spotted spawning new FEMTO-MOON
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
Get your MOON GEAR: Auction to feature Space Race memorabilia
Keepsakes from early NASA, Soviet programs up for bids
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.