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Brits To Crash Test a Scramjet

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the please-give-us-videos-of-that dept.

314

hywel_ap_ieuan writes "The BBC is reporting that a the "Hyshot consortium" will be testing a scramjet called Hyshot III in Australia on Friday. The fun part: "If everything goes to plan, the experiment will begin at a height of 35 km. As the engine continues its downward path the fuel in the scramjet is expected to automatically ignite. The scientists will then have just six seconds to monitor its performance before the £1m engine eventually crashes into the ground.""

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HY LOL (1)

JismTroll (588456) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983575)

LOL HY

One million GBP? (0)

JTD121 (950855) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983577)

WTF!? I didn't know that we had to crash things into the ground to test 'em.
Why don't they just use a rocket like most of the scramjet tests have been?

Re:One million GBP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983664)

That one crashed into the ground too.

Re:One million GBP? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983842)

The third one burned down, fell over, then crashed into the ground. But the fourth one stayed up!

Re:One million GBP? (1)

Dog Chapman (942321) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983931)

You owe me a keyboard. And vast tracts of land.

Re:One million GBP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14984038)

Ocean, actually, not that it makes a lot of difference when you're hitting it at Mach 6.

Re:One million GBP? (4, Informative)

tsotha (720379) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983879)

If you had RTFA, you would have seen this:

However scramjets do not begin to work until they reach five times the speed of sound.

All scramjets, including this one, use rockets to get the engine up to speed - scramjets don't work at subsonic speeds.

They're trying to test an engine design here. Would you rather have them spend 200M building a whole craft to test an engine that's likely to be used only once? They're a long way from an anything that could actually be used for something practical, so cheapest is best as long as it moves the ball forward.

Re:One million GBP? With a MILLION POUNDINGS (0)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983997)

of thrustin' I wouldn't need to hit the speed of sound to produce a screamin' jet...

Oh, wait... wrong jet wrong thrust, wrong pound...

(But, I WOULD pound my feet and scram outta there like a jet...)

(word image: minstrel)

Re:One million GBP? (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#14984018)

Not only that, but Australians aren't Brits, and to be specific, the scientists will have 29 seconds before the crash to examine data (6 seconds of actual burn starting at 35 miles, 23 seconds later the thing will plow into the ground). But it does start out on a rocket- they're dropping it from 100 miles up to get the proper speed for the scramjet to operate.

Re:One million GBP? (1)

qbwiz (87077) | more than 7 years ago | (#14984026)

Those crashed into the ocean anyway, so they might as well take advantage of gravity.

Re:One million GBP? (1)

oni (41625) | more than 7 years ago | (#14984132)

Well actually, the headline says 1m pounds, so wouldn't that be 1 milli-pound?

RE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983583)

Will they crash it into my bunghole!!?!?!1111??!!one!!!!
Froiost Poiiosst fukkkkkaa!!!!!

RTFA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983586)

The article really says that The operating system will have just 6 seconds to boot and fire the engine before the jet crashes into the ground.

Re:RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983699)

Troll.

If everything goes to plan, the experiment will begin at a height of 35km. As the engine continues its downward path the fuel in the scramjet is expected to automatically ignite.

The scientists will then have just six seconds to monitor its performance before the £1m engine eventually crashes into the ground.

Re:RTFA (1)

Furmy (854336) | more than 7 years ago | (#14984095)

If everything goes to plan, the experiment will begin at a height of 35km.

I wonder if the team declined to comment on what might happen if "everything goes to hell."

They should pool resources (5, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983590)

Perhaps they could team up with some Earth Sciences researchers doing work on crater formation...

Re:They should pool resources (1)

KBAegis (961391) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983714)

I thought NASA gained enough information after they crashed a several million dollar martian sattelite into the ground because they forgot the difference between a yard and a meter . . .

Re:They should pool resources (1)

Syphtor (312852) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983748)

True, as in this article "Crashing down to earth near us, the future of jet travel [theage.com.au] " it's run by the University of Queensland, with funding from US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency and Australia's Defence, Science and Technology Organisation.

Weapon? (0)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983604)

Are they testing a Scramjet or a new Bunker-buster?

Budget (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983684)

Are they testing a Scramjet or a new Bunker-buster?

They were given a budget of one million pounds.

What do you THINK

Re:Weapon? (2, Funny)

Dmack_901 (923883) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983774)

Heck at Mach 7.6 it's probably enough to smash an atom. Just duct tape some uranium to the tip and off you go.

Re:Weapon? (2, Funny)

NeoThermic (732100) | more than 7 years ago | (#14984021)

You would have to use something other than ducktape. As we all know, ducktape is sufficent to contain a nuclear explosion!

NeoThermic

Re:Weapon? (0)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983880)

Yes?

The best kind of Science! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983605)

All expeirements should end in some kind of explosion! What good is being a scienctist if you don't get to blow shit up?!?

Re:The best kind of Science! (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983891)

All expeirements should end in some kind of explosion! What good is being a scienctist if you don't get to blow shit up?!?


You must be thinking of computer science ;)

Pilot's motto: (4, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983611)

Old pilot's motto: "Airspeed, altitude or brains. Two are always needed to successfully complete the flight."

> "If everything goes to plan, the experiment will begin at a height of 35 km. As the engine continues its downward path the fuel in the scramjet is expected to automatically ignite. The scientists will then have just six seconds to monitor its performance before the £1m engine eventually crashes into the ground."

Revised for 2006: "We'll settle for one out of three these days... as long as you have a hell of a lot of it to compensate."

Re:Pilot's motto: (4, Funny)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983690)

OK, we've got 35km. Altitude, check.

Scramjet pointed straight down. Airspeed, check.

Getting paid to destructively test a million pound device, wow. That'd be so cool. Brains, check.

Looks like they've got 3/3.

Re:Pilot's motto: (4, Funny)

mctk (840035) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983768)

Old pilot's motto: "Airspeed, altitude or brains. Two are always needed to successfully complete the flight."

New pilot's motto: "Always review the flight plan before committing to a mission."

not the right way to start (5, Funny)

blastard (816262) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983613)

Somehow, paving "the way for ultrafast, intercontinental air travel" by crashing your very first example does not sound like the way you want to start things off.

Then again, the British did usher in the passener jet age with the Comet [bbc.co.uk] .

Re:not the right way to start (1)

hplasm (576983) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983899)

It's the Will Robinson approach- London to Sydney in 20 mins by going through the planet..

Re:not the right way to start (4, Insightful)

gjuk (940514) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983904)

To be fair - the Comet was revolutionary in many ways - especially being the first commercial jet airliner. The metal fatigue which caused it to crash was not known about until the crashes. First mover disadvantage. Because the British investigated the crashes so thoroughly, subsequent airliners could ensure they weren't prone to the issue. A great shame that DeHavilland did all the work and a bunch of people died for Boeing to benefit.

Re:not the right way to start (3, Informative)

rilister (316428) | more than 7 years ago | (#14984097)

err. more importantly, the freakin' jet engine!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Whittle [wikipedia.org]

entertainingly, the new US show "American Inventor" credited the invention of the motor car and the computer to the Americans last week. doooooh!

meanwhile, this scramjet isn't even by the brits, it the aussies. It's being reported by the BBC, hence the confusion

Just use NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983620)

to do the monitoring. They'll confuse feet with meters and the thing will smash into the ground in no time.

Re:Just use NASA (2, Funny)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 7 years ago | (#14984056)

Imagine the consequences if they confused meters with metres !

Not the Brits (2, Informative)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983635)

ScramJet is the work of Australians Ray Stalker and Allan Paull [abc.net.au] who achieved the phenomenon with a budget of tins cans, string and glue whilst Nasa failed with a team of hundreds and a 9 figure budget.

Re:Not the Brits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983675)

who achieved the phenomenon with a budget of tins cans, string and glue

I built my first scramjet out of an old coffee can, some ductape, and a broken hair dryer.

Isn't Australia a prison colony? They let the inmates play with explosives there? That may not be the best idea...

Re:Not the Brits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983836)

Isn't Australia a prison colony?

If you're a yank - so was the us.

If you're a pom - your ex-prison is kicking your ass at your games. [wikipedia.org]

(for the lazy:
1 Australia @171
2 England @81)
If you're someone else... well you're just jealous :-)

Re:Not the Brits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14984033)

If you're a yank - so was the us.

No no no, the brits sent all the convicts over to your country, and they sent all the depressed gun totting millitant religious wackos (later spelled Waco) over to my country. Your country started out as a prision colony, and mine a dumping grounds for unwanted religious cults... yay history!

Re:Not the Brits (0)

JesseL (107722) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983760)

Not to mention that this appears to be a five year old dupe:
http://slashdot.org/science/01/02/22/2113206.shtml [slashdot.org]

(I only remember that thread because I got my first socre 5 comment there)

Re:Not the Brits (2, Informative)

Syphtor (312852) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983784)

Not a dupe, they're testing Hyshot 4, Hyshot 2 (in July 2002) was the world's first scramjet to be successfully tested. (and the one built out of bits and bobs)

Re:Not the Brits (3, Informative)

AeroIllini (726211) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983790)

Not to mention that this appears to be a five year old dupe

Not a dupe. They tried this 5 years ago and it didn't work. Now they're trying it again.

FTA:

It is the first of three test flights planned for this year by the international Hyshot consortium.

The first Hyshot engine was launched in 2001 but the test flight failed when the rocket carrying the engine flew off course.

Re:Not the Brits (1)

Syphtor (312852) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983770)

True, as in this article "Crashing down to earth near us, the future of jet travel [theage.com.au] " it's run by the University of Queensland, with funding from US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency and Australia's Defence, Science and Technology Organisation.

Re:Not the Brits (4, Informative)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983816)

ScramJet is the work of Australians Ray Stalker and Allan Paull who achieved the phenomenon with a budget of tins cans, string and glue

RTFA: "The scramjet engine, known as Hyshot III, has been designed by British defence firm Qinetiq."

There's this concept called "international collaboration". It's not actually impossible for a project to involve people from more than one country. Yes, and one of the Australians you name is in charge. But the scramjet engine that's being tested on Friday was designed by the British. A few days later they'll be testing another one that was designed in Japan. After that, there's an Australian-designed one lined up too.

We're talking big money international collaboration here. Stalker and Paull aren't working with a budget of tin cans any more.

Re:Not the Brits (4, Informative)

AeroIllini (726211) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983841)

Nasa failed with a team of hundreds and a 9 figure budget.

The first much-ballyhooed flight may have failed (because the Pegasus rocket exploded, not because of a problem with the scramjet), but the Hyper-X [nasa.gov] program is considered a rousing success, with two successful hypersonic flights and a new jet-powered speed record of Mach 9.6.

That being said, I applaud the efforts of the University of Queensland, who is helping push the limits of aerospace knowledge. If they can do that on a shoestring budget, then that's all the better.

Re:Not the Brits (1)

sane? (179855) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983911)

Nope. These Hyshot tests are collaborative exercises between a number of participants. This particular test has a UK (QinetiQ) Scramjet [qinetiq.com] design, boosted up to velocity via an Aussie rocket. Past tests have had other designs, including an Aussie built scramjet. The Australian press tests to big up the Aussie element, which is why you can tend to miss the reality of the international nature of the work.

You're right about them doing quite a lot with very little though. Other thing to bear in mind is its more about missiles than passenger aircraft.

7 figures vs 9, and NASA DID NOT FAIL (2, Informative)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983932)

who achieved the phenomenon with a budget of tins cans, string and glue whilst Nasa failed with a team of hundreds and a 9 figure budget.

Wow. I don't know where to begin. Oh, I know- how about the fact that NASA DID NOT FAIL [nasa.gov] (article is from 2004, by the way- and they hit Mach 10).

before the £1m engine eventually crashes into the ground

A million British Pounds is US$1.7 million, which would put it firmly in the "seven figures" realm for JUST THE ENGINE. So I would think it would be reasonable to assume that eight figures ($10M) have been spent on the project in total.

Lastly- the Aussies benefited quite a bit from research NASA has made over the last couple of DECADES...

These people were doing the NASA research (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#14984111)

Lastly- the Aussies benefited quite a bit from research NASA has made over the last couple of DECADES...
I saw a scramjet model in Brisbane, Australia in 1987 which was being prepared to be put into the shock tunnel at the University of Queensland Mechanical Engineering Department. Some of the funding came from NASA - this IS the research that NASA has been doing over decades. It doesn't all happen in Texas guys, it's a big world out there.

Re:Not the Brits (1)

TDRighteo (712858) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983969)

To elaborate further, the Hyshot program is actually based out of the University of Queensland [uq.edu.au] , (ie. Australia) and is very much NOT a British program. If anything, it's international. Yes, QinetiQ is a partner and did help, but the BBC isn't doing anything new by touting the local (to it) firm's part in things. The UQ website also notes USAF and CAF involvement.

To quote from a SpaceDaily article [spacedaily.com] at the time of the last test:

The Hyshot Consortium partners include Astrotech Space Operations, DTI and GASL, QinetiQ, NASA Langley Research Center, Seoul National University, the DLR (German Aerospace Center), NAL (National Aerospace lab. Japan), AFRL (Air Force Research Laboratory, USA), Australian Space Research Institute (ASRI), Institute of Engineers Australia (IEAust), UniQuest and the Australian Department of Defence. Australian firms, Alesi Technologies, NQEA, AECA, Luxfer Australia and Jet Air Cargo, and BAE Systems Australia are also involved.

So, next time the BBC reports on something that's happening outside America, I hope somebody will do some research before they base the headline on the leading paragraphs.

Note: I'm a UQ past student (had Allan Paull as a first year subject coordinator) and employee, so I'm not short on local perspective/bias here.

Re:Not the Brits (1)

PigIronBob (885337) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983976)

Who cares, I know UQ does a lot in the Scramjet area, The Poms most likely do as well, but by the time it's all said and done and these babies are common place, the Yanks will take the credit anyway!

I know nothing about this stuff (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983642)

and that will be obvious after my question........

but couldn't they build it to survive impact into the ocean, and then retrieve it?

I seem to remember the US space program doing this when they first went to the moon. And that man who singlehandedly built the rocket and went to the moon. What was his name? Apollo Creed? Anyways Tom Hanks was really great in that movie. Forest Gump I think it was.

Re:I know nothing about this stuff (3, Informative)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983810)

At the speed the craft is traveling, crashing into a body of water isn't that different from crashing into a concrete wall. To allow the craft to survive, it has to decelerate first.

Re:I know nothing about this stuff (2, Informative)

monkeymanatwork (653088) | more than 7 years ago | (#14984013)

At those speeds, we don't have any materials that will survive impact with the ocean. In fact, the Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters, when they parachute gently into the ocean, sustain considerable damage to the aft end (nozzle & stuff IIRC). It's worth it to salvage the casings.

Yes, I am a rocket scientist (well, I used to be).

Crash! (5, Funny)

Colgate2003 (735182) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983651)

From the article

On its descent the engine is expected to reach a top speed of Mach 7.6 or over 9,000km/ hour.

I think crash is a bit of an understatement!

Re:Crash! (3, Funny)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983921)

I think crash is a bit of an understatement!

How right you are! I'd expect something more like an Earth-Shattering KABOOM!

Re:Crash! (1)

wtansill (576643) | more than 7 years ago | (#14984110)

How right you are! I'd expect something more like an Earth-Shattering KABOOM!
Not unless they had an Illudium Q-38 Explosive Space Modulator(tm)!

Not the first time (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983653)

This has been done before, at Woomera test range. The University of Queensland launched HyShot in 2002, and had a major success.

http://www.abc.net.au/science/slab/hyshot/default. htm [abc.net.au]

you know... (3, Insightful)

heatdeath (217147) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983654)

i realize everyone thinks they're cute by making cracks about how we don't want to test planes by crashing them, but it's actually pretty awesome that we're to the point where we can get all of the info we need about in-flight stuff in just 6 seconds, and that we don't have to worry about making the plane able to land in order to test the engine. it should speed up development time, and who knows, maybe a plane flight to tokyo won't put you in danger of deep vein thrombosis. =p

good job, brits.

Re:you know... (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983750)

You won't have time to worry about a DVT - I believe hearing the captain saying "Ladies and gentlemen, you have 6 secon&^£%&^£$&^[NO CARRIER]

Only on Slashdot (5, Funny)

dsci (658278) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983852)

Do you see a comment by "heatdeath" responded to by "LiquidCoooled."

Re:you know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983777)

...maybe a plane flight to tokyo won't put you in danger of deep vein thrombosis

I am flying from Osaka to Tokyo every week for five years and I'm still healthy!

Re:you know... (4, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983865)

a plane flight to tokyo won't put you in danger of deep vein thrombosis.

      Sure blame the plane flight for DVTs. I mean, forget about the fact you weight 300 lbs (around the same as your cholesterol level), smoke, take birth control pills and are diabetic. It's the plane trip that caused it...

They should have just talked to the Americans (4, Funny)

Expert Determination (950523) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983668)

I'm sure they could suggest hundreds of places where they'd like to see a new crater. Two birds with one stone 'n' all that.

Re:They should have just talked to the Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983961)

I was hoping for a Mythbusters tie-in. I'm sure there's some myth out there that requires a 9000km/h engine to crash into it. "What do you say? <Jamie looks over crater and debris> -"Busted." -"Yeah, definitely busted."

poor pilot (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983674)

his worst job ever ...

Pilot Needed? (1)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983679)

I heard Donald Trump is trying to volunteer the current wife now that she has given birth. Time to move on ....

Re:Pilot Needed? (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983872)

I know a certain Senator [senate.gov] from New York State that would make a great test pilot for this mission,... ;-)

At The Test Range (0, Redundant)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983687)

Alright, mates, now I want you all to pay real close attention. Yes you too, Smiley, and don't give me that with the finger, I know all about your Sheila and the dijaroo player. Now what we're going to do is take this engine, yes the one you see right behind me, and we're going to take it up this really high ladder here... Smiley, pay attention, we get one shot at this before the Brits cancel the check and get some bloody Yank to do it... Smiley, wake up!!!! Better, now, like I was saying, I want Smiley and Benton to hoist the engine up, yes that's with ropes Smiley... no I'm not interested in the dijaroo player's... never mind... Now, when we drop it, it's really important that we make a lot of noise, because for a million bucks they want it to look like it dropped from 35 miles... Smiley, put down that bloody stick, you don't want to end it all that way... No, I don't know any good dijaroo players...

Re:At The Test Range (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14984119)

Hahaha, but a few minor innacuracies that I'll forgive you for

Smiley should be Blue
dijaroo is actually didgeridoo
check is spelt cheque in Oz
million bucks would more likely be million quid

But still funny.

--
Australia "Where the bloody hell are you?" Offending Canadians, British and Singaporians to get free advertising.

Only can imagine the initial conversation... (2, Funny)

thrill12 (711899) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983713)

... the inventor of this plan had with the senior manager in control of the budget:

"So let's see, in short your plan is to fly a plane up to 35 kilometers in height above the mainland of Australia, switch off the engine, let it drop down with a highly experimental engine - this 'scramjet' - that you suppose would then go off automatically and accelerate the vehicle to a phenomenal speed, finishing it all off with a nice crash of that same million dollar plane into the ground ?"

"Oh yeah mate, blimey, that's it - you got it in one row !"

"You ever done this before ?"

"Nah, if I would ave, I wouldn't be standing here mate, eh ?"

"And this 'scramjet', it would ignite automatically ?"

"Sure, that's what the manual says anyhow"

"And while it sores over our Australian mainland with this high velocity, and when it enters the ground in the final stage, it would not have reached any, say, 'populated' areas?"

"Nah mate, only a couple'a'dingos probably. Everything should be fine, unless things go wrong, but that's why we're testing eh, aye?"

"You're absolutely right, I guess... Here's your money, and now don't screw up !"

"Sure thing, won't screw up, and I will tell the same to the monkey that drives the controls ! Cheers mate !"

It would have seemed more logical... (3, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983729)

To give the engine a fast initial velocity, rather than use a parabolic orbit in which the engine essentially has a standing start at 35 Km up. The engineers presumably know what they're doing, so I guess they've thought all this through, but I'd have strapped a couple of standard ramjets either side of the scramjet. At peak altitude, it would then be possible to accelerate the scramjet to near-ignition point using the ramjets. You've then got virtually the entire 35Km descent to do the scramjet testing.


(Hydrogen-fuelled ramjets are useless above Mach 5, but that's about when the scramjet should ignite, so you really wouldn't need a whole lot of additional acceleration at that point. If they've got the ignition point within the limit, you could even switch directly from one to the other.)


The other thing I don't like is that this is destructive testing. It's inescapable, given the approach they're using, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Their data collection has to be wireless, since no recording device is going to survive a mach 7 impact, but wireless is relatively slow. This means that they're going to be limited in what they can collect - what parameters, what accuracy, what resolution, etc.


Normally, this wouldn't matter a great deal. But we're talking mach 7 speeds in a far denser atmosphere than most existing hypersonic travel (such as the shuttle re-entry) have taken place in. I believe there have been two successful scramjet flights in the past, so we have a little information on what happens under those conditions, but it seems somewhat... brave... if they are assuming they can interpolate between the few data points they'll be able to collect -and- extrapolate beyond the six seconds of flight.


Again, I'm sure they have their reasons, but for novel engines under novel conditions, I'd have thought that getting as much data as humanly possible would be worth almost any additional effort.

Re:It would have seemed more logical... (1)

borderpatrol (942564) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983812)

You're over thinking.

This ain't rocket science.

Re:It would have seemed more logical... (1)

DemonThing (745994) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983928)

No doubt they'll also be collecting data from the ground as well. (Who says all the data has to be sent from the scramjet engine?)

Re:It would have seemed more logical... (1)

Gulthek (12570) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983952)

Because all they can measure from the ground without depending on a wireless connection is the aircraft's position, speed, and orientation. Big whoop.

Re:It would have seemed more logical... (2, Informative)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 7 years ago | (#14984035)

Their data collection has to be wireless, since no recording device is going to survive a mach 7 impact, but wireless is relatively slow.

The recently-launched SPACEWAY-3 communications satellite sports 10Gbps of bandwidth from geosynchronous orbit. I do not think wireless is as slow as you might be thinking.

Re:It would have seemed more logical... (1)

beta21 (88000) | more than 7 years ago | (#14984116)

And they are not using a Linksys router. Because if you expect 6 seconds of connectivity from that...forget it!

Re:It would have seemed more logical... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14984060)

but I'd have strapped a couple of standard ramjets either side of the scramjet. At peak altitude, it would then be possible to accelerate the scramjet to near-ignition point using the ramjets. You've then got virtually the entire 35Km descent to do the scramjet testing.


maybe they didn't want the ignition point to be so high up, perhaps they have some reason for not wanting it to test over a long period of time? the only guess i would have is that there is some reason to not have the entire descent to do the testing... perhaps not wanting the engine to run too long? and so they might as well make it a free fall (cheaper?) plus, if the ignition point was too high up and it was for such a short time, probably harder for data to be collected? i dunno

i was thinking the same thing myself tho.

Re:It would have seemed more logical... (5, Insightful)

jayteedee (211241) | more than 7 years ago | (#14984074)

I'd have thought that getting as much data as humanly possible would be worth almost any additional effort.

Ah....This ending pretty much explains the whole comment. You must be a physicist....certainly NOT an engineer. There is always diminishing returns on investment. You must pick a price point evaluate what you will get out of any test. More data is almost always better, but somebody has to pay out in the real (non-university) world.

Other errors:
There are solid state data recorders specifically made for high speed impacts. On the order of 100,000 G's. Place one in the back behind something heavy/solid and you shouldn't have any problem.

Wireless can hit 10,000,000 bits/second with one channel. Throw a couple of S-band channels and you have a stout communication line to the ground. Plus the hardware (Rx stations) is already in place at most ranges.

I assume they are doing the burn on the way down because they couldn't afford a rocket big enough to accelerate up to M=7.6 in a dense atmosphere. Plus they don't have to deal with all the heating issues while they are accelerating. Take a nice gentle ride at speeds up to M=3 or 4 and then use gravity to assist you up to the desired speed for the test. As an ENGINEER, I like their simple, low-cost solution to their test.

Does this mean that (4, Funny)

thejeek (952967) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983771)

it can only be deemed a failure if it *doesn't* crash? -- jeek

Well, aviation has a 100% success rate... (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983919)

... 'cos we've never left anyone up there yet.

Re:Well, aviation has a 100% success rate... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 7 years ago | (#14984055)

Well, aviation has a 100% success rate ... 'cos we've never left anyone up there yet.

No, that means gravity works.

Anybody can achieve a ballistic trajectory ... it's landing and controlling properly that's complicated.

Otherwise, I'm sure some drunken people with a trebuchet achieved the first flights in the middle ages. Kinda like these idiots [brettmartin.org] who decided to do just that.

And, you gotta ask, just how many pints would you have to drink to decide you wanted to be launched out of such a device?

Not a bad idea (2, Insightful)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983805)

It's probably cheaper than _not_ making it crash. They would have to add skids, a parachute, or something else to it for any type of landing, and that would add mass and cost, and probably make the test less accurate. They would also have to test these additional components. This way they won't have to pay for disposal or storage when they're done with it.

Of course, those savings would be negated if they somehow hit something 'expensive'...

-M

Re:Not a bad idea (1)

MooUK (905450) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983908)

They'd need a lot more than a parachute. Remember, it'll be going at some considerable speed even before the scramjet ignites, and at that point it will be pointing more-or-less straight down. It'll take six seconds to hit the ground. That would give you not long to test the engine, then successfully decelerate and level out.

Not particularly practical, I'd say.

what a waste (0, Flamebait)

phatmonkey (873256) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983818)

Surely there are better things to spend this money on?

Re:what a waste (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983888)

once we can build a reliable ramjet trhat can be reused, it could go into commercial airlines.
which mean in order to compete, they will need to by more of these planes, which means more jobs, and probably far more them 1million in taxes.

People probably said the same thing about the Moon Launch, but we have returned over 15 dollars for every dollar spent in taxes on the new industries the Moon program created.

I can't wait... (4, Funny)

martinultima (832468) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983829)

Until MythBusters decides to try this one!

Scramjet (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983834)

Scrambledjet

A tad bit more than 35km (1)

Mo6eB (832959) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983850)

The summary suggests, that the engine will be lifted 35km off the ground and dropped.

The article states, that it will be lifted 330km above the ground and dropped, with ingnition expected to occur at an altitude of 35km, after which, only 6 seconds would be left, before the engine hits the ground.

What in the flying Fonzarelli?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983866)

"Hay ghuyz! Let's spend $50 million developing a new scramjet, build a $1.5 million prototype and run that son of a bitch into the ground! What'dya say?!"

"Hell yeah!"
"I'm stoked!"
"Let's do it!"

------

Why the hell didn't they launch the damn thing over the ocean and then retrieve it? Are they worried about the Ruskies/Chinese/Muslims/IRA/PETA/Greenpeace people trying to steal debris and reverse engineer it?

Uk to Aus (2, Funny)

Rdickinson (160810) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983867)

I always wondered hwo thre going to cut the flight time from the UK to Australia.

looks like ther planning on taking the direct route....

ScramCam? (1)

rewinn (647614) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983875)

It should be an awefully short video!

NHS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983900)

In other news, the NHS queues continue to get longer and service continues to decline. Go figure.

Never have these words been heard together (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983916)

If everything goes to plan ... the £1m engine will eventually crash into the ground.

Sounds like a British project to me :)

Plan worked for NASA (2nd time) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14983924)

It only took NASA 2 tries to do this, but the second one was rather impressive. http://www.nasa.gov/missions/research/x43-main.htm l [nasa.gov]

Somebody has to say it... (1)

keraneuology (760918) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983974)

It sounds as if they are attempting to find a true replacement for the Concorde.

Six seconds? (2, Funny)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#14983975)

Begin test in 3...2...1... START!

-At-choo!
-Dude, WTF? Hit the RECORD BUTTON!
-What?
*CRASH*
-Ah, nevermind.

A thought: Possible launch vehicle? (1)

NeuroManson (214835) | more than 7 years ago | (#14984077)

If such a vehicle is launched at an angle towards the Earth, it would have a gravitational assist, that, with steering motors, could be used for an inverted slingshot effect, to launch a payload at escape velocity, expending (and needing) less fuel than would be nessesary for orbit. It would have the effect of using a hypersonic ramp for launch.

Are there any real rocket scientists out there who can correct/disprove my hypothesis?

Mythbusters Episode (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14984080)

This needs to be on an episode of Mythbusters...so they have something else to blow up or crash

Some hurdles (4, Informative)

quanminoan (812306) | more than 7 years ago | (#14984138)

Scramjets are really interesting. They are just as powerful as rocket engines should they work properly, but they don't have to carry around nearly as much fuel. Liquid hydrogen/oxygen fuel for a rocket has most of it's weight stored as the heavier oxygen. The scramjet and ramjet engines intend to scoop the oxygen from the atmosphere, reducing the weight of the aircraft by several times.

The engineering behind the ramjet and scramjet couldn't be any more different. Ramjets are basically scramjet engines that purposefully slow the air intake so that combustion can occur. In a scramjet the big problem is that the air is moving so fast that when you ignite the fuel/air mixture, the combustion will actually take place outside the engine. It would be ridiculous to slow the air, so the problem lies in how you get the mixture to ignite sooner. To this end they are testing ionizing mixtures, etc. Some scramjet geometries are highly classified.

Here's a good link that talks about the combustion issue: http://www.aip.org/tip/INPHFA/vol-10/iss-4/p24.htm l [aip.org]

And of course some general information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scramjet [wikipedia.org]

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