The Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) has successfully conducted a flight trial of the joint Australia-US hypersonic international flight research experimentation (HIFiRE) programme at the Andøya Rocket Range in Norway.
Dubbed as HIFiRE 7, the trial was designed to assess how scramjet engines start up at high altitudes, and also to measure how much thrust the engines produce at lower altitudes.
According to DSTO Aerospace Division chief Dr Ken Anderson, the experiment was intended to test complex systems necessary for the reorientation and control of hypersonic vehicles both outside and inside the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds.
The new development follows the completion of a suborbital flight and re-entering the atmosphere as the payload accelerated to more than seven times the speed of sound or 2km per second.
HIFiRE 7 science lead professor Michael Smart said: "I am happy to say this has paved the way for continuing the programme.
"Flight testing is inherently risky, but it is the best way to advance scramjet and hypersonic technologies."
The data received during the flight revealed that the test vehicle was functioning perfectly, the flight was proceeding on the correct trajectory, the flight control system performed flawlessly and supersonic airflow was established in the combustor.
However, the flight data stream from the payload was lost just 15 seconds before completing the flight due to possible overheating of the voltage regulator in the telemetry system.
The HIFiRE programme is currently planning a second attempt of the flight. The next two flights are expected to be conducted at the Woomera Test Range in South Australia later this year and in 2016.
The programme is a joint collaboration between the US Air Force Research Laboratories (AFRL), DSTO, Boeing and the University of Queensland.