Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
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AEM spotlight:

Scramjet test a success, travels up to Mach 10

Paul Dye

Photos courtesy of The Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation.
Pictured above is the TALOS rocket carrying the test scramjet engine. The engine successfully flew at over Mach 10, or ten times the speed of sound. Professor Graham Candler designed the inlet for the engine.

Last week, a joint venture between Australia's Defence Science and Technology Organisation and the United States's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency experienced a success, as did an AEM Professor heavily involved in the project.

A prototype scramjet engine flew at up to ten times the speed of sound, and is near or may exceed the fastest-ever air-speed record.

A scramjet utilizes air to efficiently combust fuel in a ramjet engine.

AEM Professor Graham Candler designed the air inlet, an integral part of the experimental engine.

In a brief Q&A below, Professor Candler discusses his thoughts on the project, as well as the implications of a successful experiment.

What are your thoughts on the mission?
It's exciting that something we have designed has actually flown. This was the first test of an inward-turning scramjet inlet.
As an engineer, it’s fun that you actually design something and go fly it. This is the first work I’ve been involved with where what we have worked on has been flown.

What are the implications of a successful experiment?
We have to look at the data and see if it works as well as it did in the wind tunnel and simulations. If it did work very well, there’s definitely the prospect for follow-up work, flight tests, and expanding the work toward new designs and doing more testing.

Are there military or commercial implications?
Paul Dye
Profressor Graham Candler

What was your role on this project?
We used our computational fluid dynamics methods to design the inlet, which is the front end of the vehicle. It’s what takes the oncoming air and compresses it efficiently, so it can be burned with fuel to produce thrust. It’s essential to the engine. The efficiency of the inlet to a large extent determines the efficiency of the engine itself.

Graham Candler heads the National Hypersonics Research Center.

For more information on the HyCause engine and the successful launch, please visit:

Jet engine tested at 10 times speed of sound (Scientific American)
High Speed Success at Woomera, a release from the DSTO

Last Modified: Wednesday, 22-Aug-2012 11:33:46 CDT -- this is in International Standard Date and Time Notation