India becomes fourth country to successfully test launch scramjet engine

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee has congratulated the space agency on the successful test. ISRO's real aim is a Single Stage to Orbit (SSTO) launch vehicle to replace its expendable versions such as the multi-stage Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

ISRO chairman AS Kiran Kumar told news agency ANI: "Today's experiment of doing a scramjet engine test is a very significant development".

While the duration of scramjet engine functioning was five seconds, at the beginning of the five second duration, fuel was injected and then engine ignited automatically. The speed at which it has to burn would also vary.

Earlier P Kunhi Krishnan, director of SDSC, had said the Indian weather satellite will be launched on August 28 which has now been postponed to September 8. This could reduce the weight of the rocket by more than half. Explains ISRO, air-breathing rocket systems use atmospheric oxygen from their surroundings, burn it with the stored onboard fuel to produce a forward thrust. "We also need to develop new materials for the engine as it has to withstand the oscillation of rockets".

According to him, the total cost of developing this technology is estimated at Rs 35 crore.

Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) scientists and engineers monitor the movements of India's Mars orbiter at their Spacecraft Control Center in the southern Indian city of Bangalore November 27, 2013.

This mission endorsed critical technologies such as the ignition of air-breathing engines, holding the flame both at supersonic speed of mach VI - six times the speed of sound - the air intake mechanism and the fuel injection systems.

The experimental mission aimed at realisation of an Air Breathing Propulsion System (ABPS) which uses hydrogen as fuel and oxygen from the atmosphere air as the oxidiser.

India on Sunday became the fourth country to successfully test launch a scramjet engine, The Hindu reported. "ATV carrying Scramjet engines weighed 3277 kg at lift-off". Apart from its technical advancements, the scramjet can boost economic fortunes of an emerging nation like India which is constantly vying for global connectivity to upscale its developmental efforts in the years to come. ISRO has successfully test-fired its Scramjet Rocket Engine, a breakthrough technology in air-breathing propulsion.

  • Carolyn Briggs