Friday, March 24, 2006

Scramjets - faster than just about anything you can think of

Scramjets are in the news.

The fastest non-rocket vehicle is the x-43 scramjet built by US company Alliant Techsystems. Last year it went about Mach10 in a test.

That's fast:
10 mach = 7 612.0 mile/hour
10 mach = 3.4 kilometer/second
10 mach = 20 461 204 furlong/fortnight

Now, other countries are racing ahead with their own scram jet programs.

Lastest Scramjet News from India:
IN a major breakthrough towards the goal of developing an operational supersonic combustion technology, which holds the key to building a reusable space vehicle or a high speed, ultra fast aircraft for civilian or military uses, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully carried out the design, development and characteristics realisation of the supersonic combustion ramjet (Scramjet) early this year.
Latest Scramjet news from Australia:
A new jet engine design able to fly seven times the speed of sound is scheduled to launch over Australia on Saturday. The scramjet engine, known as Hyshot III, has been designed by British defence firm Qinetiq.

What is a scramjet? From the wiki entry:
A scramjet (supersonic combustion ramjet) is a variation of a ramjet where the flow of the air and combustion of the fuel air mixture through the engine is done at supersonic speeds. This allows the scramjet to achieve greater speeds than a conventional ramjet which slows the incoming air to subsonic speeds before entering the combustion chamber. Projections for the top speed of a scramjet engine (without additional oxidiser input) vary between Mach 12 and Mach 24 (orbital velocity). By way of contrast, the fastest conventional air-breathing, manned vehicles, such as the U.S. Air Force SR-71, achieve slightly more than Mach 3.2.
Scramjets are something American scientists do very well. Alliant Techsystems, a Minneapolis HQ'ed company is doing a lot of interesting things with unmanned scramjet vehicles.

No comments: