Scientists from the University of Queensland are part of an international group that successfully launched an experimental rocket which hit speeds of Mach 7.5 (9,200 km/h).
The rocket, named HiFire 5B, which was launched from the Woomera Test Range in South Australia, managed to reach a height of 278km.
HiFiRE 5B is one of 10 experimental flights that are set to take place as part of the international group’s quest find a way for sustained hypersonic flight.
The findings from these tests will eventually lead to the development of scramjet engines able to fly and withstand the heat travelling at over 9000 km/h. A normal turbine engine has moving parts, so at that speed it would explode.
The scramjet in comparison does not have moving parts. It instead forces air down a narrowing tube, which eventually becomes so hot it ignites when touching a fuel source.
Eventually these jets will be able to propel commercial passenger planes and see travel from Sydney to London occur in as little as 2 hours.
“The success of this test launch takes us one step closer to the realisation of hypersonic flight,” chief defence scientist Dr Alex Zelinsky said.
“It is a game-changing technology identified in the 2016 Defence White Paper and could revolutionise global air travel, providing cost-effective access to space.”
Professor Michael Smart, from University of Queensland’s School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering, said that the test paves the way for creating the jet engine of the future.
“The knowledge gained from these experiments will be applied to develop future flight vehicles and testing of advanced air-breathing hypersonic propulsion engines, known as scramjets,” he said.
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