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ISRO rocket tests air breathing propulsion technology news
05 March 2010

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully flight tested a new generation high performance sounding rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) on Wednesday, designed to test futuristic air-breathing propulsion technology.

Sounding rocket lift-off. Image: ISRO
The rocket, dubbed the Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV-D01), is the heaviest sounding rocket ever developed by the ISRO and weighed three tonnes at lift-off.

The ATV-D01 carried a passive scramjet engine combustor module designed to test air-breathing propulsion technology. The scramjet is an acronym for Supersonic Combustion Ramjet. The scramjet differs from the ramjet in that combustion takes place at supersonic air velocities through the engine. It is mechanically simple, but vastly more complex aerodynamically than a jet engine.

During the flight, the vehicle remained for seven seconds in the desired conditions of Mach number (6 + 0.5) and dynamic pressure (80 + 35 kPa). These conditions are required for a stable ignition of active scramjet engine combustor module planned in the next flight of ATV, ISRO said in a statement earlier.

The successful flight testing of ATV-D01 is a step ahead towards the advanced technology initiative taken up by the ISRO in the area of air-breathing propulsion.

Successful development of such technology will drastically reduce the cost of launch vehicles as scramjet engines use oxygen in the atmosphere to propel the spacecraft.

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ISRO rocket tests air breathing propulsion technology