2 November 2001

The University of Queensland has welcomed moves by the Federal Industry, Science and Resources Minister Nick Minchin to clear the way for another HyShot scramjet experiment.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Greenfield said he appreciated the minister’s efforts to move as quickly as possible on the investigation into flight anomalies of the October 30 rocket launch at Woomera.

This investigation effectively means a second rocket launch scheduled for next week will now have to be postponed.

Although the October 30 launch was conducted successfully, the rocket experienced a flight anomaly which meant the scramjet experiment could not go ahead. Nevertheless, HyShot team leader Dr Allan Paull said there were still many positives to come out of the exercise.

“It was an achievement just to get the payload to the rocket launch site,” Dr Paull said.

“Furthermore, we gathered valuable data during the rocket flight and I was encouraged by the fact the scramjet payload survived the journey until the rocket returned to earth.

“This will help us plan for the next experimental launch, whenever that may be. A lot depends on what further funding we can secure.”

Scramjets are air-breathing supersonic combustion ramjet engines which could revolutionise the launch of small space payloads such as communication satellites by substantial lowering costs.

The HyShot program has helped establish Australia at the forefront of hypersonic technological research. HyShot’s scientific achievements have included;

* The development of a working scramjet payload suitable for flight at nearly 8 times the speed of sound;
* The ground testing of the scramjet in The University of Queensland’s T4 shock tunnel in vacuum conditions likely to exist in space;
* The development and testing of a method to reorient a rocket in space so that it can fly in a new configuration, pointing the scramjet payload back down to earth;
* The solution of difficult engineering problems related to the nose cone eject system, revealing the scramjet payload:
* The development of instrumentation for transmitting flight data.

University of Queensland researchers were the first to report a successful “flight” of a scramjet in a ground shock tunnel facility in 1993.

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