One of the biggest collaborative research projects between Australia and the United States is currently running, and it brings researchers one step closer to making hypersonic flights reality.
The project named “Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation – HIFiRE 5B” is a collaboration among the US Air Force Research Laboratory, Boeing Research and Technology, the University of Queensland and the Australian Department of Defence’s DST Group, and it cost US$54 million.
The fifth of ten rocket test flights from Woomera Test Range in South Australia was a success; the hypersonic rocket, HIFiRE 5B hit the forecasted speed of Mach 7.5 (9200 km/h), and reached 278km from the surface of the Earth.
The successful outcomes of this research are great news for aeronautical engineering, as it gathers data that cannot be obtained from ground tests, such as development of next generation design, assembly, avionics and flight systems of hypersonic vehicles. The research also tests advanced air-breathing hypersonic propulsion engines, scramjets.
Once a reality, hypersonic travel would revolutionise global air travel; with speeds above five times the speed of sound, a vehicle like that could get to Sydney from London in as little as two hours.
Five more HIFiRE test flights from Woomera are still to take place, some of which are being scheduled for 2017.