CANBERRA An experimental jet engine has been
successfully tested at speeds of up to 11,000 km (6,835 miles)
per hour, or 10 times the speed of sound, during trials in
Australia's outback, defense scientists said on Friday.
The experimental scramjet engine is an air-breathing
supersonic combustion engine being developed by Australian and
U.S. defense scientists that researchers hope will lead to
super-high speed flight.
Scientists from Australia's defense Science and Technology
Organization and the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects
Agency (DARPA), used a conventional rocket to launch the
scramjet high above the Woomera test site.
The engine was then tested as it reached speeds of Mach 10.
Scramjets need a rocket to propel the vehicle to high-speed
before the engine can take over. They also need to operate in
the thin atmosphere far above the altitude of commercial
"All the indications are it was a success, and we have some
very happy scientists," an Australian defense spokesman told
Reuters on Friday.
Flight data will be examined over coming weeks and compared
to ground tests conducted in the United States, DARPA chief
researcher Steven Walker said in a statement.
"We are pleased with this joint effort between the U.S. and
Australia and believe that a hypersonic airplane could be a
reality in the not too distant future," Walker said.
Scientists say the scramjet engine could lead to high-speed
flights on long-range missions, as well as new low-cost ways to
launch satellites into space.