REAL LIFE NEWS: SCRAMJET TEST SUCCESSFUL
A new jet engine designed to fly at seven times the speed of sound was tested for the first time last week, and early indications are that everything went to plan. The scramjet engine, called the Hyshot III, was launched at Woomera in Australia, on the back of a two stage rocket. Once it reached about 200 miles up, the Hyshot III fell back to Earth, reaching speeds which analysts will hope topped Mach 7.6.
The scientists had just six seconds to monitor its performance before the engine crashed into the ground, and an international team of researchers is now analysing data from the experiment.
A scramjet - or supersonic combustion ramjet to give it its full name - has no moving parts which makes it mechanically very simple. It takes all of the oxygen it needs to burn the hydrogen fuel from the air. This is a lot more efficient than a conventional rocket engine, which needs to carry its own oxygen supply. As the engine continues its downward path the fuel in the scramjet ignites automatically.
You can read more about this test, and watch a video of the take-off, on the BBC News web site.