India test fires hypersonic missile in technology demonstrator

The technology used in the test is the next frontier in aircraft propulsion.

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India test fires hypersonic missile in technology demonstrator

India has successfully launched the first test flight of its Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) from Abdul Kalam Island in Odisha. The missile is part of India's efforts to develop a scramjet engine, which is the considered the next frontier for future missile, aircraft and spacecraft technology.

The test flight of the HSTDV was conducted by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which has been developing the scramjet engine. 

"The missile was successfully launched at 1127 Hours. Various radars, telemetry stations and electro optical tracking sensors tracked the vehicle through its course. The data has been collected and will be analysed to validate the critical technologies," read a statement from the government.

The statement however did not reveal details about the configuration in which the vehicle was tested. It also did not state if the aircraft did indeed achieve hypersonic speeds.

The test also holds immense learning potential for some programmes of ISRO and for the development of the BrahMos-II cruise missile.

Hypersonic refers to speeds that are between 5 and 10 times the speed of sound. The development of aircraft - planes or missiles - that can reliably travel at hypersonic speeds has taken years given the extreme levels of strain on the aircraft, and also a number of physical forces that behave differently from supersonic flight.

Scramjets are different from rockets in that they are air breathing engines that work on the same fundamental principle as the jet engines we are used to seeing on passenger aircraft. However, scramjets use different principles from jet engines and ramjets on how the compression of fuel is achieved before combustion.

The US, Russia and China have all tested hypersonic aircraft. Countries that are working on developing hypersonic aircraft apart from India are France, Germany, UK and Australia.


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