May 22, 2009
Superjet Technology Trials In Australia
Australian and US officials reported that scientists have successfully tested hypersonic aircraft technology that could revolutionize international flight, AFP reported.
Defense Science Minister Warren Snowdon said the trial was the first of up to 10 tests to be conducted at the Woomera desert range as part of a joint US-Australian military research operation.
The Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE) project is a program investigating hypersonics technology and its potential for next generation aeronautics.
Hypersonics is the study of flight exceeding approximately five times the speed of sound.
Snowdon said the trial has successfully tested the flight and mission control systems that will be used in future experiments.
A rocket launched from Woomera carried the test vehicle into space, where it then dived back into the atmosphere to test the hypersonic flight technology.
Snowdon said nitrogen gas valves were used as thrusters to maneuver the craft in space and correctly position it for reentry into the atmosphere.
"Hypersonic flight could become a reality in the not too distant future, offering immense economic and strategic benefits for Australia," Snowdon said.
He believes the technology could provide "quantum leaps" in speed and fuel efficiency and had the potential to dramatically reduce intercontinental travel times.
The defense department said during trials of similar technology in 2007 that traveling time from Sydney to London could be cut to as little as two hours for the 10,600-mile flight.