Hypersonic travel that could propel people from London to Sydneyin just two hours is one step closer to reality, following a successful test.
The project, which sawUS and Australianmilitary scientists combine resources,is on track to launch in 2018 after its latest engine trial hit the target speed of Mach 7.5 - more than seven times the speed of sound.
It could revolutionise global air travel andprovecost-effective access to space,Alex Zelinsky, the chief Australian scientist working on the project said.
For a jet or rocketto be classified ashypersonic,it musttravel at five times the speed of sound, or Mach 5.The latest trial at the world’s largest land testing site in Australia sawa rockethit the target speed of Mach 7.5 (5760 miles per hour), reachingan altitude of 279 kilometres.
“We want to be able to fly with a hypersonic engine at Mach 7,” Michael Smart, a hypersonic expert from the University of Queensland who is working on the test, told the AFP. “You could fly long distances over the Earth very, very quickly.”It’s also very useful as an alternative to a rocket for putting satellites into space.”
The teamplans to run 10 trials on the rocket, which has a supersonic combustion engine that usesoxygen for fuel, making it lighter than traditional rockets.The next test isscheduled for 2017, while the firstwas in 2009.