A second hypersonic flight test has been carried out by the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO).

The test flight at Woomera Test Range in Australia was part of the hypersonic international flight research experimentation (HIFiRE) joint research programme between the DSTO and the US Air Force.

Hypersonic flight involves flying through the atmosphere at speeds above Mach 5.5, more than five times the speed of sound.

The programme has been undertaken to investigate the fundamental science of hypersonic technology and its potential for next-generation aeronautical systems.

Australian Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science Greg Combet said the flight represented a significant scientific milestone, enabling scientists to collect fundamental data critical to the design and development of an engine capable of sustained hypersonic flight.

“Hypersonic flight has the potential to revolutionise global air travel and provide cost-effective access to space, giving Australia the opportunity to launch satellites economically for communication purposes,” he said.

As part of the programme, up to ten planned flight experiments will be executed in the future.