The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully test launched the Scramjet Rocket Engine at 6 a.m. on Sunday from the rocket port of the Satish Dhawan Space Station (SDSC) at Sriharikota. The air-breathing engine, which was tested with the launch of a RH-560 sounding rocket, could make the cost of launches 10 times cheaper.
India is now the third nation after the United States of America (US) and Australia that has this technology.
The rocket, which is also known as the Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV), had lift-off weight of 3,000 kg, and the air-breathing engine was tested for around six seconds.
"Two scramjet engines were tested during the flight. The scramjet engines were ignited 55 seconds into the rocket's flight. The engines were tested for six seconds," a senior ISRO official told IANS.
The two air-breathing engines were located on the sides of the rocket, while the Super Sonic Combustion scramjet engine would use the oxygen from the atmosphere as fuel when the rocket reaches a height of 11 km. The reduction in the amount of oxidiser to be used with the fuel brings down the overall weight of the rocket and also increases efficiency. It also causes a 10-fold reduction in the cost of launches.
The launch of weather satellite INSAT-3DR on the geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSLV-MkII), was postponed from Aug 28 to Sep 8 because "there was a technical issue found with a satellite component," which has now been sorted out, Director of SDSC P. Kunhi Krishnan told IANS on Saturday. He added that the GSLV rocket that would carry INSAT-3DR is fully assembled, but it would take three to four days to mount the satellite onto the rocket.
ISRO will reportedly launch ScatSat, a weather monitoring and forecasting satellite on polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) in September. The Indian satellite will be a co-passenger to an Algerian satellite, which will also be launched.