The first experimental flight of the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) scramjet (supersonic combusting ramjet) engine using an air breathing propulsion system took place on August 28 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota, India.
After a 12-hour countdown, a solid rocket booster carrying the scramjet engines, lifted off. The important flight events, namely, burn out of booster rocket stage, ignition of second stage solid rocket, functioning of Scramjet engines for 5 seconds followed by burn out of the second stage went as planned.
After a flight of about 300 seconds, the vehicle landed in the Bay of Bengal, approximately 320km from Sriharikota.
Critical technologies such as ignition of air breathing engines at supersonic speed, holding the flame at supersonic speed, air intake mechanism and fuel injection systems have been successfully tested with this flight.
The scramjet engine designed by ISRO uses hydrogen as fuel and oxygen from the atmospheric as the oxidizer. The flight was a short duration experimental test of scramjet engine with a hypersonic flight at Mach 6.
ISRO’s Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV) was the solid rocket booster used for the test of the scramjet engine at supersonic conditions.
Some of the technological challenges included design and development of a hypersonic air intake, the supersonic combustor, development of materials to withstand very high temperatures, computational tools to simulate hypersonic flow, and ensuring the performance and operability of the engine across a wide range of flight speeds
India is the fourth country to demonstrate the flight testing of scramjet engine.