Hypersonic rocket makes successful Mach 5.5 flight

Posted by Emma Woollacott

US and Australian defence scientists have made a second test flight of a hypersonic rocket, with the aim of gathering data to commercialize the technology.

The Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) and the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) successfully completed the flight at the Woomera Test Range yesterday, at a speed more than five times the speed of sound.

It's hoped that hypersonic rockets could eventually turn all air travel into a short hop, making London to Sydney a two-hour flight.

"Today’s flight represents a significant scientific milestone, enabling scientists to collect fundamental data critical to the design and development of an engine capable of sustained hypersonic flight," said Greg Combet, Australia's Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science.

The flight was the second in a series of up to ten planned flight experiments. Called the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE), it is investigating the fundamental science of hypersonics technology and its potential for next generation aeronautical systems.

"Hypersonic flight has the potential to revolutionise global air travel and provide cost-effective access to space, giving Australia the opportunity to launch satellites economically for communication purposes," said Combet.

"The continued collaboration between DSTO and the US Air Force Research Laboratory will help expedite the development of hypersonics technology and the potential for high-speed flights in the future."