Feeds

Engineers tweak scramjet

Oz test set for Saturday

Intelligent flash storage arrays

A new international entry into the hypersonic arena will be tested on Saturday. Hyshot III, a prototype scramjet part-developed by Ministry of Defence spin-out Qinetiq will be released from aboard a rocket over the South Australian desert at 12.30PM local time.

The University of Queensland-run trial is a kamikaze mission for Hyshot III. From an altitude of 330km, it will accelerate towards the Earth. At 35km above ground, the missile-like craft will have gained enough speed for the experimental engine to be switched on.

If all goes to plan Hyshot III will then go hypersonic - the team are aiming for Mach 7.6. That's a face-rearranging 9000km/h.

Engineers will have six seconds to monitor the performance of the scramjet before it's turned off. Half a minute and 23 kilometres later the £1m Hyshot III will eat sand.

Scramjets - supersonic combustion ramjets - work by harnessing the enourmous air pressure generated at supersonic speeds to force large amounts of oxygen into the combustion mix. Conventional supersonic jets have to slow the air down to use it.

Predecessor Hyshot II was the first scramjet to fly successfully. It went the same speed as the Hyshot III team are after.

The idea this time is to improve efficiency. Queensland associate professor Michael Smart told the Melbourne Age: "It actually looks like a big silver bullet and it has intakes to take in the air at the front of it, whereas the previous one, HyShot II, was a very rectangular-looking thing with wedges. This bullet shape has, hopefully, a more efficient intake."

It's not rocket science

If the technology can be made viable, scramjets have the beating of conventional rockets too. Not having to carry their own oxygen in solid or liquid form means they're much more efficient.

While military applications are obviously the driver for the work, the researchers hope hypersonic travel will eventually be available to the great unhosed. London to Sydney would take just two hours.

As The Register has reported in the past, things can go spectacularly wrong with these experiments. Project leader Dr Allan Paull told the BBC: "You are dealing with extremes of conditions. You're working out on the edge and with a lot of the stuff no one has ever tried before. You've got to expect things to go wrong".

For details of American efforts to get scramjets fired up see here

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Relive the death of Earth over and over again in Extinction Game
Apocalypse now, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that ...
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.