The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on 28 August 2016 successfully test launched the Supersonic Combustion Ramjet engine, called Scramjet, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikotta in Andhra Pradesh.
The experimental mission aimed at realisation of an Air Breathing Propulsion System (ABPS) uses hydrogen as fuel and oxygen from the atmosphere air as the oxidiser.
Two scramjet engines were mounted alongside of a two-stage, solid fueled rocket called Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV), which is an advanced sounding rocket. The national space agency said that its first ever experimental mission met all the specified goals. The rocket carrying Scramjet engines weighed 3277 kg at lift-off.
After a flight of about 300 seconds, the vehicle touched down in the Bay of Bengal, approximately 320 km from Sriharikota. The vehicle was successfully tracked during its flight from the ground stations at Sriharikota.
With this success, India joined the select league of four space faring nations that have demonstrated flight testing of Scramjet engines.
• A scramjet (supersonic combusting ramjet) is a variant of a ramjet air breathing jet engine in which combustion takes place in supersonic airflow.
• The scramjet engine is used only during the atmospheric phase of the rocket’s flight.
• It uses hydrogen as fuel and the oxygen from the atmospheric air as the oxidizer.
Benefits of the engine
Once the new technology is adopted, the cost of satellite launches would come down significantly and heavier satellites can also be launched using smaller vehicles. The Air Breathing Propulsion System (ABPS) uses oxygen from the atmosphere for burning the fuel in rockets, whereas, at present oxidizing agents are being used along with the fuels in the rockets, making the vehicles heavy and expensive.
Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV)
ATV is a two stage spin stabilised launcher with identical solid motors (based on Rohini RH560 sounding rocket) as the first as well as the second stage (booster and sustainer).
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When: 28 August 2016
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