The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) for the first time has successfully conducted the Scramjet (or Supersonic Combusting ramjet) engine test. The test was conducted from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikotta in Andhra Pradesh and has successfully has met all the intended parameters. With this, India became only the fourth nation in the world to successfully flight-test a scramjet engine after United States, Russia and China.
The scramjet engine, also known as the air-breathing engine because of the technology it uses, was tested with the launch of a big sounding rocket.
“Two scramjet engines were tested during the flight. The finer details about the test will be known later”, said an ISRO official. The official also said that as scheduled the two stage/engine RH-560 sounding rocket took off from the rocket port at SDSC in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. The scramjet engines were ignited 55 seconds into the rocket’s flight. The engines were tested for six seconds.
The scramjet engine works on the Air-breathing Propulsion System. It is composed of three basic components, a converging inlet, where incoming air is compressed; a combustor, where gaseous fuel is burned with atmospheric oxygen to produce heat; and a diverging nozzle, where the heated air is accelerated to produce thrust. Unlike a typical jet engine, scramjet does not use rotating, fan-like components to compress the air. Since, Scramjet does not have rotating parts so the chances of failure are also measurably reduced.
The new propulsion system would complement ISRO’s aim to develop a reusable launch vehicle that would have longer flight duration. India’s DRDO is also reportedly working with Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyenia to develop the second generation Brahmos cruise missile (dubbed the Brahmos-II) powered by a scramjet. Kudos to ISRO for the successful launch!