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ISRO gears up to test scramjet engine
Jul 14, 2016

ISRO is gearing up to test a scramjet engine based on air-breathing propulsionafter  success of the technology demonstration flight of its Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV- TD).

Some key points:

  • The test flight of the indigenously-developed and named Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV)
  • The test platform will comprise a scramjet engine hitched to a two-stage sounding rocket (RH- 560).
  • The vehicle has been characterised and is being fabricated at the VSSC and the ISRO Propulsion Complex, Mahendragiri
  • The air-breathing engine will be released at a height of 70 km and ignited during the coasting phase.
  • The test is also expected to achieve good thrust value with the scramjet engine

Technology Behind Scramjet

  • The scramjet engine uses air breathing propulsion technology for hypersonic flight
  • Scramjets burn hydrogen but take their oxygen from the air which is forced into the engine at very high speed.
  • The scramjet engine can also liquefy the oxygen and store it on board
  • A scramjet operates by the supersonic combustion of fuel in a stream of air compressed by the high forward speed of the aircraft, as opposed to a normal jet engine, in which fan blades compress the air.
  • Scramjets only start to work at about Mach 6, or six times the speed of sound. And this means they first have to be boosted to their operational velocity.

    Model of scrimjet

What’s Advantages:

  • It contributes to smaller launch vehicles with more payload capacity and promises cheaper access to outer space.
  • While conventional rocket engines need to carry both fuel and oxidiser on board for combustion to produce thrust, scramjets obtain oxygen from the atmosphere by compressing the incoming air before combustion at supersonic speed.
  • Almost 80 per cent of the lift-off mass of a launch vehicle is due to the oxidiser,  By obviating the need to carry oxygen, the lift-off mass is considerably reduced, thereby enhancing the payload capacity.


  • In the space delivery business
  • launching small payloads, such as communications satellites, into orbit.

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