Speed demon: the scramjet
With continuing tests planned for the Australian outback, the 8,000 km/h scramjet is edging towards reality
Sometime soon â€“ sooner than you might think â€“ it could be possible to climb aboard a craft that takes off from Sydney and touches down in London with barely enough time in between for a beverage and an afternoon nap.
To achieve this astounding feat, it will soar above the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds of Mach 8, or about 8,300 km/h, arcing across the globe in a parabolic flight path, then gliding gently down to the ground: the whole transglobal trip taking less than three hours.
Kevin Bowcutt, the chief scientist for hypersonics with Boeing Phantom Works, based in California, USA, says that flight could be a reality within 10 to 20 years. “There are no miracles, no major technological breakthroughs that we need to get from here to there,” says Bowcutt. “But it won’t be easy, quick, or cheap. It will take a lot of investment and years of hard engineering and development work.”
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