ISRO flight-tests scramjet engine, joins elite club-Prelims-2017

  • India on Sunday became only the fourth nation to flight-test a scramjet engine, a technology that scientists claim could change the way space travel is undertaken in the future.
  • Though the full development of the engine, for an “air breathing” propulsion system that significantly reduces the amount of fuel needed to fire up engines on a rocket, is “decades away.
  • The ISRO conducted its first experimental mission of the engine, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.
  • It used an Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV), a sounding rocket for the test, at supersonic conditions. The ATV with the scramjet engines weighed 3,277 kg at lift-off.
  • “This is a first baby step but important step for the future of technology in India.
  • The scramjet engine works on an “air breathing” philosophy that reduces the amount of oxidiser to be carried along with the fuel, bringing down launch costs. 
  • Designed by the ISRO, it uses hydrogen as fuel and oxygen from the atmospheric air as the oxidiser.
  • “This experiment was conducted for a five-second duration at 20 km. 
  • To carry the engines, we used a special two stage-sounding rocket.

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