back to article DARPA scramjet nudges Mach 10

Australia's Woomera Test Facility last Friday hosted the successful launch and firing of a scramjet engine which reached speeds of "up to Mach 10", the country's Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) has announced. The HyCAUSE lifts off atop a TALOS rocket. Photo: DSTO The HyCAUSE vehicle - a joint project between …


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  1. Ian Ferguson

    Sydney to London in...

    Most Scramjet stories are ended with a line such as 'This technology will cut journey times from Sydney to London to as little as two hours'. If the takeoff is anything like the picture shown here I'll stick with the long haul...

  2. Adrian Jones

    Mach 10?

    How do I attach it to the back of a Sinclair C5?

  3. Giles Guthrie

    Re: Sydney to London in...

    By the time the Scramjet is available and working in a commercial airliner, it will take 73 hours to get through Airport Security anyway.

  4. Richard

    More bar staff?

    And the reason Australians would want to be able to fly to London in two hours? To send us more of their youngsters to work in bars?

  5. Mike Richards

    'How do I attach it to the back of a Sinclair C5?'

    More like, 'how do I attach it to the back of a Robin Reliant?'


  6. Glenn

    SCRAM jet

    Does the engine intake encounter alot of "atmospheric air" molefcules up there at 530km? You know, that is 329.32673 miles or 1,738,845.1 feet and WAY above the altitude of the ISS. wow.

  7. Martin Budden

    530km up!

    Yep that's a long way up, well into space where there is no air... it reached its record-breaking speed as an operational Scramjet upon re-entry into the atmosphere. I can't find any reference as to what happened next... did it smash into the ground, or was it recovered?

  8. John

    Curry Deliveries

    Two hour curry deliveries London to Sydney!

    Next big thing.

  9. Judy


    The payload crashes into the ground but is equipped with GPS to aid in recovery - although you'd be surprised how dense some areas of scrubland are out there in the desert, recovery is not always certain. The data is telemetered back to tracking stations during the flight but in the case of this particular mission, the bandwidth was insufficient for the pictures from the onboard camera. So getting the pretty pictures depends on recovery.

  10. Chris Barrett

    So did they cheat slightly?

    It seems that the craft used rocket propulsion to reach beyond the ionosphere (ie. into space), re-entered earths atmosphere and then attained Mach 10 with its scramjet. How much of this speed can be attributed to the experimental propulsion system rather than free-fall forces? The space shuttle is effectively a glider when it re-enters the atmosphere but still manages to reach 17,500 mph without any engine. Does the scramjet maintain its Mach 10 speed at a constant altitude for a significant amount of time?

  11. Judy


    Actually, the scramjet was not "used" to attain Mach 10. These are tests for obtaining combustion chamber data. The free-fall was entirely the means of reaching Mach 10. What's "cool" is when the data indicates that the combustion process proceeded as designed at this speed. Currently scramjet designs can only really cope with a single design speed. Naturally for technological application they need to accelerate over a range of speeds - stay tuned to future tests for these incremental achievements.

  12. Judy


    Incidentally, the NASA X43 that flew for 11 sec at about Mach 10 a year or so ago did not use the scramjet to reach this velocity either. It was a rocket booster that was fired up after being dropped from a plane. But the X43 flew horizontally and did demonstrate cruise capability at that speed for the 11 sec after detachment from the booster.

  13. Paul Hurst

    Mach 10

    "up to Mach 10" is that like "up to 8Mb ADSL"?

    So about Mach 3.5...

  14. Glenn

    Judy Knows Scramjet

    Conventional (speed) airflow is so difficult that the quiet bathroom fan is still just a gleam in this insomniac'a eye. If multi flow variable shock cone combustion ends up being confined to one airflow speed do you think that a Sanger type atmosphereic skipping profile would be called for? (See X-20, Wikipedia)

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