The Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota (an island located in South-Eastern state of Andhra Pradesh, off the Bay of Bengal) witnessed another feat of achievement by ISRO, as the space research organization took its debut steps towards developing futuristic technology by testing scramjet engines last weekend. The technology is potential in bringing down costs considerably in the long term, making access to space more affordable. The current rocket launcher technology utilized by ISRO requires carrying both fuel and oxidizer on board for combustion.
Scamjet engines however reportedly uses oxygen from the atmosphere thereby reducing the lift-off mass of the vehicle if used to launch missiles, power satellites or even in a plane, thus cutting down on both travel time and reduce the weight of a rocket.
Still in nascent stage, the Scramjet engine once fully functional will considered to be used to power ISRO’s Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) at hypersonic speed. The country’s first RLV was launched by ISRO and the recent engine test is eventful for India earlier this year.
Stating that the technology might take a decade’s time to be fully developed, Dr. K Sivan, scientist with ISRO and director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Center, Thiruvananthapuram (capital of the southern Indian state of Kerala) said, “Engine tested today was burnt only for five seconds. But in a rocket, the engine has to burn for over 1,000 seconds. The speed at which it has to burn would also vary. We have to conduct various tests for that before getting ready an engine that can fly a rocket”
Chairman A S Kiran Kumar affirmed that with this test India becomes the fourth nation of the elite club in the world to have tested such technology, U.S, Russia and European Space Agency.
In his official twitter handle, The President of India Pranab Mukherjee congratulated the ISRO team on its maiden RLV launch.