• The Australian-design scramjet SCRAMSPACE is set to hit 8600 kmh in over Norway in 2013. (University of QLD)
    The Australian-design scramjet SCRAMSPACE is set to hit 8600 kmh in over Norway in 2013. (University of QLD)

A hypersonic scramjet designed by a team led by the University of Queensland has passed a critical review that clears the way for a flight in Norway in 2013.

SCRAMSPACE is a free-flying scramjet that is scheduled to launch from Andoya Rocket Range, 300 km north of the Arctic Circle, on a flight that could see it reach a speed of 8600 kmh.

The 1.8-metre-long spacecraft will be transported to an altitude of 340 km by a two-stage rocket. After leaving the atmosphere, the scramjet vehicle will separate from the rocket, and orient itself for the re-entry with small thrusters.

During the return flight, the vehicle will be accelerated by gravity to Mach 8 – about 8600 kmh.

The part of the experiment important to the scientists takes place at an altitude of between 27 and 32 km. This is where the scramjet’s hydrogen fuel will be injected, and a wide range of instruments will analyse the combustion and measure thrust.

A $14 million international consortium of partners in five countries, led by The University of Queensland’s Centre for Hypersonics, is behind the project, which is developing a new type of scramjet they hope will offer a reliable and economical way to launch satellites.

SCRAMSPACE Director and Chair for Hypersonics at UQ, Professor Russell Boyce, said that passing the review under the scrutiny of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) and others was a major project milestone.

“The SCRAMSPACE flight team has done an incredible job so far," he said. “With training and support from our colleagues at DSTO, a state-of-the-art experimental scramjet vehicle has been fully designed, on time and on budget.

The flight experiment Technical Lead, Dr Sandy Tirtey, described the next phase of the project as critical.

“It’s a very exciting stage in the project," he said. "Our team now has a big effort ahead in manufacture, assembly and pre-flight testing to be able to fly next year."

Partners in the program include four Australian universities: UQ, the University of NSW, the University of Adelaide, and the University of Southern Queensland; and a US university, the University of Minnesota.

It also includes aerospace agencies and research organisations from Germany, Japan and Italy; DSTO, the Australian Youth Aerospace Association and industry partners including Brisbane firm Teakle Composites, Cairns firm AIMTEK and BAE Systems.

The SCRAMSPACE project was established with $5 million in Commonwealth funding through the Australian Space Research Program.

comments powered by Disqus