The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has successfully conducted the first flight test of a homegrown scramjet engine, reaching hypersonic speeds during descent.
The engine was tested using an S-520-RD1 rocket. The one-stage sounding rocket has a total length of about 9.15 meters and a total mass of around 2.6 tons. It was launched on July 24, 2022, from Uchinoura Space Center in Japan’s southern Kyushu region.
The rocket reached an altitude of 168 kilometers, at which point the test engine was released.
During the descent, an ignition test was carried out. With hydrogen for ignition and ethylene as fuel, the scramjet engine used air captured from the atmosphere for around six seconds, reaching a speed of Mach 5.5 (6,800 kilometers per hour). The test was focused on gathering data regarding fuel combustion.
“We achieved a certain level of success,” Koichiro Tani, JAXA’s researcher leading the project, told a news conference, as reported by The Japan Times. “In the next step, we want to make a real engine and conduct a flight test.”
The test was carried out as part of JAXA’s ‘Basic research on fluid and combustion for hypersonic flight’. Data will also be made available to the Japanese Ministry of Defense’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency that commissioned the study.