The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Sunday successfully tested its latest Scramjet engine that is expected to bring down launch costs by up to 10-fold. The Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV) rocket flew at Mach 6 speed (six times the speed of sound), making India one of the four nations to be capable of doing so.
The rocket was successfully flight-tested from the launch pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota.
The most significant feature of a Scramjet or Supersonic Combusting ramjet is that it is an Air Breathing Propulsion System which uses hydrogen as fuel and oxygen from the atmosphere air as the oxidiser. ISRO currently uses rocket vehicles like PSLV that delivers satellites into orbit and can be used once. ATVs use will cut down the launch cost by half.
According to The Indian Express, this is not India’s first venture into hypersonic flight or scramjet technology. DRDO has reportedly been working with NPO Mashinostroyenia of Russia to develop the second generation Brahmos cruise missile powered by a scramjet, dubbed the Brahmos-II. Brahmos-II is being designed to be capable of flying 300 odd kilometers at a speed of Mach 7.