As part of the joint Australia-U.S. Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE) Program, a team of researchers recently conducted a flight experimentation trial to learn new facts about the functioning of the scramjet engines. The trial was conducted at the Andoya Rocket Range in Norway.
With the help of the trial conducted under the HiFiRE Program, the researchers wanted to see the functioning of the scramjet engines at high altitudes, in addition to how much thrust is produced by the engine at lower altitudes. The researchers at the University of Queensland (UQ) developed the scramjet engine while flight test vehicle and control systems were designed by a team at the Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group.
According to the DST website, the trial took place after “completing a suborbital flight and re-entering the atmosphere as the payload accelerated to over seven times the speed of sound or 2km per second.”
Professor Michael Smart of the UQ School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering, and the Science Lead for the joint program, said that even though complete data was not received from the flight during the trial, it did show that a majority of the new technology performed perfectly. During the flight trial, the data stream from the payload was lost at the time of the atmospheric re-entry, just 15 seconds before the flight was supposed to end. The researchers suspect that it was due to the overheating of the voltage regulator.
The chief of the DST Group Aerospace Division, Ken Anderson, believes that the success of the flight has paved the way for a decision to continue the program further. According to Anderson, six such flights have been conducted in the last ten years as a part of the HiFiRE program.
Anderson further said that with the help of the trial, the researchers have got an insight into the complex systems that help control and reorient Hypersonic vehicles located in and out of the atmosphere at Hypersonic speeds. According to DST, the next two flight trials in the HIFiRE Program will be conducted at the Woomera Test Range in South Australia in 2015 and 2016, respectively.