SRIHARIKOTA : The Indian Space Research Organization reached another milestone on Sunday, 28th August 2016 when it successfully tested the Scramjet (Supersonic Combusting Ramjet) from Satish Dhawan Space Center(SDSC) in Sriharikota,off the coast of Andhra Pradesh. With its successful launch, India joined the elite league of only two other nations that have this technology.
With this feat, India has significantly reduced the launch costs. Scramjet engine uses oxygen in the atmospheric air to burn the hydrogen fuel. It obtains the oxygen from the atmosphere by compressing the incoming air before combustion at hypersonic speed. Usually, the propellant contributes to 85 percent of the weight of the rocket and the oxygen accounts for 60 percent of the weight. But by using oxygen in the atmosphere, more than half of the rocket’s weight is reduced and the rocket becomes lighter and thus becomes cheaper.
On Sunday, twin scramjet engines were mounted on the back of the second stage of a two-stage, solid fuel sounding rocket called Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV), which is ISRO’s advanced sounding rocket. The twin Scramjet engines were ignited during the second stage of the rocket when the ATV achieved a speed of 7350 km/hr (Mach 6) ,which is six times the speed of sound, at an altitude of 20 km.Two scramjet engines were tested during the flight. The rocket had lift-off weight of 3,000 kg .According to an ISRO official, “The scramjet engines were ignited 55 seconds into the rocket’s flight. The engines were tested for six seconds.” ISRO chairman Dr.Kiran Kumar told the news outlets that the test was a “grand success”. The president of India Dr.Pranab Mukherjee also congratulated ISRO. “Hearty congratulations ISRO on the successful test of futuristic scramjet rocket engine, India is proud of you,” he said in a tweet. According to a report by NDTV, the scramjet will bring down the launch cost of weather satellite INSAT-3DR which is a high-end weather forecast system designed for enhanced meteorological observations and disaster warning. This satellite was scheduled to be launched in August earlier, but it has been postponed to September.
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