31 October 2001

An attempt by a group of international researchers to achieve the world’s first supersonic combustion flight has not succeeded.

However the HyShot research team say they have recovered valuable data from yesterday’s rocket launch which will assist them in future attempts to flight test air-breathing scramjets.

Project leader, Dr Allan Paull from The University of Queensland, said he was also pleased the scramjet payload fitted onto Terrier Orion rockets survived the journey until it returned to earth.

“Although we didn’t achieve all that we set out to achieve, we succeeded in gathering valuable data, and we’re encouraged by the fact the payload survived one hell of a wild ride,” Dr Paull said.

The experiment at the Department of Defence’s Woomera Prohibited Area, 500 kilometres north of Adelaide, was not successful because the rocket experienced flight anomalies prior to the scramjet experiment. Investigations into those anomalies are continuing.

A second experimental launch was scheduled for next week, but it is now subject to the satisfactory outcome of the investigation into the October 30 flight.

It is believed scramjets could revolutionise the launch of small space payloads, such as communications satellites, by substantially lowering costs.

MEDIA: For more information, contact Peter McCutcheon at UQ Communications on 07 3365 1088 or 0413 380012