Australian Scramjet Test Successful

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A scramjet engine successfully completed a 10-minute test flight over south Australia on Saturday. "The rocket motors worked well and the nominal trajectory was executed as planned," the HyShot consortium said in a news release. The 4.5-foot-long craft comprised a scramjet engine attached to a rocket. It flew about 195 miles into space, then with the rockets switched off, plunged back toward Earth. At about 22 miles high the scramjet activated, pushing the craft to an estimated Mach 8, or about 5,000 mph ... then it crashed in the desert about 250 miles from the launch site (part of the plan). An international team of researchers, led by The University of Queensland, is analyzing data from the experiment. Another launch is planned for later this week. Program leader Allan Paull said it might be possible to have a scramjet-powered vehicle within the next 10 years or so for applications such as carrying vital organs for urgently needed medical transplant operations, but scramjet-powered passenger jets are still a long way off.