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Photos: Rocket school launches again
On Thursday, a small team from the University of Queensland launched its second rocket within a week to set the stage for faster, cheaper air travel. From its launch pad in Woomera, Australia, HyShot IV carried a scramjet engine over 190 miles skyward--the goal being to help the scramjet gain enough speed on its return to ignite for six seconds before a planned crash landing. It was hoped the engine would reach a a speed of Mach 8, eight times the speed of sound, or about 5,000 miles per hour. The launch tested a scramjet engine with an advanced fuel injector developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
Scramjets, short for supersonic combustion ramjets, may someday launch satellites more cheaply--or even take passengers from London to Sydney in about two hours, proponents say. The test engines need a rocket boost as they will not ignite until reaching a speed of Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound. The engine sucks oxygen from the atmosphere to burn its hyrdrogen fuel. Scramjet engines are expected to be ready for commercial use in about 10 years.