Indian Space Research Organisation successfully tested two Scramjet engines on two RH-560 sounding rockets on August 28. In the process, India has become the fourth country to successfully test launch Scramjet engine, which will play a crucial role in ISRO’s future space transportation system. Scramjet engines are used during the atmospheric phase of the rocket’s journey and can bring down the launch cost by reducing the amount of the oxidiser to be carried along with the fuel.
Scramjet engines use hydrogen as a fuel and the oxygen from the atmosphere is used as the oxidiser.
Until now, ISRO had used rocket launch vehicles like the PSLV to deliver satellites into orbit; PSLVs carried fuel and oxidiser. But scramjets will use the surrounding air to burn fuel. The chances of failures are considerably reduced.
Said S. Nambi Narayanan, former ISRO scientist, to THE WEEK: “It was an excellent idea to use scramjets. We were all waiting for this day. I feel thrilled after hearing about it. Technology-wise, this is the most innovative programme of ISRO.”
Narayanan said that ISRO has the manpower, but not enough money to keep exploring. Said he, “In future, scramjets will be of great help for Indian astronauts while travelling to space. But I feel there is still a long way to go for India’s space programmes. We need full-fledged technology and many more of such innovative steps to be the best in the world.”